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March 23, 2020
Increased demand for sexual assault services prompts new province-wide talk-text-chat line
Lethbridge, Alberta – May 6, 2019 – A critical new talk-text-and-chat service called Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence launches today to provide private, confidential support and information, and boost access to specialized services for survivors of sexual violence. One Line is a province-wide first-response platform that connects survivors to local and regional services. Alberta’s #IBelieveYou campaign and the #MeToo movement have dramatically increased demand for sexual assault services. In some centres, demand has more than doubled. One Line is a specialized response to that growing demand.
“We’ve known for years that people are most likely to reach out to friends and family after experiencing sexual violence. When they’re ready, One Line is the next step,” says Deb Tomlinson, CEO of Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS), which has developed the platform in partnership with the Government of Alberta, Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. “This technology provides access, control, anonymity, and psychological safety for survivors that makes it easier for them to reach out. We want survivors to know: we believe you; it’s not your fault; and when you’re ready, help is only a smart-phone away.”
Based on a successful pilot out of Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre in Red Deer, text and chat is a highly effective means of initial support. Technology increases access to services generally, and levers the services of urban centres to enhance access across regions. Sexual assault support requires specialized training that not all professionals and paraprofessionals have.
One Line will be staffed by trained, specialized responders, both paid and volunteer. Support will be available 9:00 am to 9:00 pm seven days a week with access to interpretation services in over 200 languages, including Cree.
Tomlinson added that text and chat are the dominant forms of communication among younger survivors, who make up the largest demographic of survivors. “We don’t know how much this talk-text-chat technology will increase call volumes, but based on similar crisis response lines in other jurisdictions, we could easily double our current volumes of care,” Tomlinson says.
How it works: Anyone can call-text-chat by contacting 1-866-403-8000. Alberta’s One Line responders will listen, provide non-judgmental support and information and resources to aid in the next steps in the caller’s healing journey.
“As a result of the successful ‘I Believe You’ campaign and Me Too movement, we have seen an increase of people accessing sexual assault survivors,” says Lisa Lewis, Director of Counselling at Lethbridge Family Services. “In response to this need, LFS is proud to host the One LINE launch in Lethbridge alongside AASAS and their member agencies, local agencies Lethbridge Family Services and Chinook Sexual Assault Centre.”
The service will be promoted through a digital campaign called #ArmsOpen featuring real Albertans sending a message of love and support to survivors. Participants will post images of themselves with #ArmsOpen in front of their community welcome-signs to illustrate that support for survivors is available to everyone, and, no matter where you live across Alberta, “our arms are open”. The campaign will be supplemented by simultaneous launch events in eleven Alberta communities including Banff, Bonnyville, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat, Sherwood Park, and Stettler.
In addition, sponsored advertising will run on Pattison superboards, billboards, digital LRT platforms, NewAd posters in arenas and restobars, IDS digital screens and posters in medical offices, Landmark and Cineplex movie theaters across the province and Rogers Media. The digital #ArmsOpen interactive campaign will occur over the next 60 days with media placements throughout the year. In addition to media partners, other supporters include SqueezeCMM (digital) and MusicBoxx (Musicboxx.ca) and Braden Bales for their musical expertise and support.
Specialized support: is important because sexual violence is associated with a high-degree of shame, self-blame, and fear of not being believed. Specialized support is associated with better outcomes.
Demographics: While sexual violence has broad community impact, the majority of survivors are young and female. Text and chat are the dominant forms of communication among this demographic. But One Line is not exclusively for younger people. Alberta’s One Line is here to support all people who have experienced or been impacted by any form of sexual violence. That is child sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual harassment, whether it was recent or years ago.
Geography: Rural centres do not have the same access to crisis support common in urban centres, yet the rate of sexual violence is often higher in rural areas relative to population. One Line will lever the services of larger urban centres to provide emotional support, information, and referral across regions. Where possible, survivors will be connected to the services nearest to them.
Anticipated demand: Based on similar crisis response lines in other jurisdictions, we could easily double our current volumes of care.
Remember to post using #IBelieveYou and #ArmsOpen
Media Contact Lethbridge
Director, Counselling, Outreach and Education
Lethbridge Family Services
1098 - 3 Avenue N. Lethbridge, AB. T1H 0H7