PRESS RELEASE: Avalon Sexual Assault Centre Responds to Review of HRSB’S Support of Rehtaeh Parsons

For Immediate Release

June 17, 2013

AVALON SEXUAL ASSAULT CENTRE RESPONDS TO REVIEW OF HRSB’S SUPPORT OF REHTAEH PARSONS

(Halifax, NS) –  Although the report released on Friday, June 14, 2013 on the Halifax Regional School Board’s support of Rehtaeh Parsons did not provide significant insight in the case, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre supports the recommendation to conduct a review of health care provided to her.

“While we appreciate that particular recommendation, we strongly believe that the province needs to review the treatment of all sexual assault victims in the health care system, especially regarding mental health,” says Irene Smith, Executive Director of Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.

Addressing the reports that Rehtaeh forcibly had her clothing removed while seeking mental health care, Smith emphasizes that when dealing with sexual assault victims, health care professionals must avoid causing further trauma. She says, “Going through that kind of experience only adds another layer of trauma for the victim and does not contribute to the healing process.”

Smith acknowledges that Rehtaeh’s experience is not a unique case. “We have to remember that when a sexual assault victim reaches out for help with their mental health, they have experienced significant distress,” says Smith. “While the physical safety of the patient is of the utmost importance, a staff member of the opposite sex should never be forcibly removing the clothes of the patient.”

In regards to the report released last Friday by Debra Pepler and Penny Milton, Smith also notes that Avalon Sexual Assault Centre was not contacted as part of the review. While the report provides a very brief description of our organization, it does not accurately reflect the various services we provide. For more information about the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, please visit www.avaloncentre.ca.

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About Avalon Sexual Assault Centre

The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre is a feminist organization working to eliminate sexual assault/abuse, and to change the current socio-political culture that fosters sexism, social injustice and other forms of oppression.

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