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Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Reporting sexual assault understandably traumatic
Charges of sexual assault in Medicine Hat have been hovering around 75 annually for the last three years. But with less than 10 per cent of sexual assaults being reported, according to the Medicine Hat Sexual Assault Response Committee, that number is far from an accurate reflection of the issue.

“It’s an issue everywhere,” said Christina Johnson, SARC regional co-ordinator.

“There is about an eight per cent reporting rate of sexual violence.”

Johnson said the stigma associated with reporting sexual assaults is one of several reasons people are hesitant to come forward, adding, “we have a culture of blaming the victim.”

And it’s not necessarily the police and court process which pose the biggest obstacle.

“Right in the moment, they are worried about whether they are going to be believed or not. That is by everyone and society in general.”

But Johnson said there is no time limit for which sexual assault can’t result in charges or prosecutions.

“That’s important because it takes time to make those decisions,” said Johnson.

But she added the biggest thing society can do for victims of sexual assault, “is believing.”

“We know that two per cent of sexual assaults that are reported are false and there is a difference in an accusation being false and not provable … So I always start by believing people who come forward.”

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