Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut August 18, 2017 - 1:10 pm

Pick up the phone if you need support, says Nunavut’s Victims Services

"We want them to know there’s someone here for them"

SARAH ROGERS

Nunavut faces some of the highest rates of family violence and sexual assault in the country, at more than seven times the national rate for Canada.

But the territory’s Victims Services wants Nunavummiut to know there is help for people who have been victimized.

“We’re trying to make sure that everyone knows that we’re here and available,” said Nunavut Victims Services victims care coordinator Lorri Martinez.

“It’s hard to come forward but we want them to know there’s someone here for them.”

Nunavut Victims Services is run through the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Justice. The service is Iqaluit-based, but there are victim service workers in each community.

And the support those workers offer runs the gamut, from emotion support to helping clients fill out paperwork.

“Right from the beginning, if they need support at the hospital; if they need support having a rape kit done or addressing other physical injuries,” she said. “We advocate on behalf of the victims to have testing done for sexually-transmitted infections or pregnancy.”

Victim services workers will also help victims develop and implement a safety plan, Martinez said—helping victims and sometimes their children find appropriate accommodation, whether it’s settling back in at home or finding space in a shelter.

Later on, victims services will accompany clients through court proceedings or to prepare a victim impact statement.

Among the most common aggressions faced by Nunavummiut victims who seek support: sexual assault, family violence, child abuse, homicide and arson, Martinez said.

She did not have statistics on the number of clients Victims Services sees each year.

Nunatsiaq News reached out to Victim Services following a warning Nunavut RCMP sent out to women in Clyde River following the arrest of a Clyde River man alleged to have assaulted a local woman.

Last week, RCMP caught the public’s attention with a news release warning women to be vigilant and safe against the risk of sexual assault.

Nunavut police went on to offer women tips on how to avoid potential assaults, suggesting they avoid wearing headphones, talking on a cell phone and ensure they keep their hands free.

The advice drew criticism from some women, who called it victim blaming, and accused police of ignoring the issue at hand—those who commit assault.

Victim Services declined to comment on the RCMP release.

“We’re not in a position to speak to the RCMP statements put out,” she said. “We just work directly with the victims, once they contact us. And everything is at their request, once they reach out.”

Any time the RCMP meets with a victim of a crime, the contact information they provide includes a number to contact Victim Services.

Nunavummiut can also call toll-free 1-866-456-5216 for service in English or Inuktitut or send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

“We want them to know that we’re listening and we care about what happens to them,” Martinez said.

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