New interview room eases turmoil for victims of sexual assault
Victims of sexual assault or human trafficking who choose to give a statement to police can now do so without leaving the supportive environment of the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program (RSADVTP) at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
In an expanded partnership between St. Joseph’s Health Care London and the London Police Service, an interview room has been created within the comforting and calm setting of the RSADVTP that allows victims to provide a statement to police, if they choose to do so, without having to go to the station. London Police come to the individual rather than the individual to the police.
“The interview room at the RSADVTP was initiated to provide better service to victims and survivors of sexual assault,” explains Detective Sergeant Dave Poustie of the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section. “It is an effort to minimize trauma by limiting the number of times a victim has to recount their story. All can be done in one place, if that is what the victim wishes.”
The RSADVTP serves London as well as Oxford, Elgin, Huron-Perth and Middlesex counties, providing 24/7 care for women, children and men who have experienced sexual assault, sexual abuse and domestic violence. (See below for a full list of services available.)
Since March 2017, the RSADVTP team has been partnering with London Police’s Human Trafficking Unit to provide initial examination, testing, and medical and psychological care for victims rescued by police. In this ongoing collaboration, the RSADVTP team is the first point of care for these individuals.
The addition of the interview space further enhances support for those seeking care for sexual assault at the RSADVTP. Investigators from the Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section or the Human Trafficking Unit can come to St. Joseph’s, where the individual may be more comfortable, to conduct an on-camera interview with the victim, explains Detective Sergeant Poustie.
“Those coming to our program are often very exhausted and stressed by their ordeal,” says Cassandra Fisher, Coordinator of the RSADVTP. “Being able to provide a statement to police after receiving care without having to leave our program is truly a patient-centred approach. They have the choice of receiving care, counseling, involving police, all three, or any combination of those options.”
London Police approached St. Joseph’s about creating the interview room. “The process was seamless in keeping with our ongoing cooperation,” says Detective Sergeant Poustie “We purchased the necessary equipment and the information technology departments at London Police and St. Joseph’s worked together to connect the systems needed. It allows another space for officers to conduct interviews and removes the need for the victim to come to the police station, which can be a barrier to communication.”
About the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program
Services offered by the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program Serving London as well as Oxford, Elgin, Huron-Perth and Middlesex counties, the Regional Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Treatment Program located at St. Joseph’s Hospital provides care for women, children and men who have experienced sexual assault/sexual abuse and/or domestic violence.
A team of specialized nurses, doctors and social workers are available 24/7 to provide care at the time of the assault and in the months following the incident. There are many options for care and each individual can choose what he or she wants to do depending on the nature of the assault and the time since the assault:
- emotional support/crisis intervention to the patient and significant other
- counseling; physical examination
- testing, prevention, and/or treatment of sexually transmitted infections initially and in follow-up
- HIV prevention medication
- testing and/or prevention of pregnancy due to sexual assault
- documentation/photographs of injuries
- forensic evidence collection
- safety planning
- referrals as needed