Date: June 12, 2012
For Immediate Release
(Surrey, BC) A new service for women and girls who have experienced a physical or sexual violence is now available in Surrey.
Surrey Women’s Centre now offers a 24-hour mobile crisis service in partnership with Surrey Memorial Hospital. “The Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team also known as S.M.A.R.T is a critical support,” says Sonya Boyce, executive director of Surrey Women’s Centre. “If we know that a woman or girl is assaulted every sixty seconds than help must be available every minute of the day.”
According to the national victimization studies, women who are assaulted are less likely to make a police report or seek medical treatment than victims of other crimes. Most women suffer silently or rely on family and friends for support. Too often many are left without the immediate emotional support and practical assistance they desperately need.
S.M.A.R.T can help women over the phone or in-person. “We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to ensure that women and girls have support when they need it” says Corrine Arthur, SMART Coordinator. “They can call us if they just want to talk. We can also accompany them to the hospital immediately after an assault if they need medical treatment and in some cases, to collect forensic evidence.”
“After an assault, it is critical that women and girls receive immediate medical attention due to the possibility of injury, pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.” says Lynn Gifford, Forensic Nursing Services Coordinator at Surrey Memorial Hospital. “Our nursing team is specially trained to assess and treat injuries sustained during an assault. Many women have injuries that they are unaware of, and sometimes these injuries can be life threatening.
Accessing medical care after an assault – any assault – is critical and the collection of forensic evidence has proved crucial in the prosecution of sexual offences.”
After the immediate medical needs are met, the team will help women make a safety plan that includes exploring their legal options. Lynn is quick to add that the collection of forensic evidence is only part of the support provided by the Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team. “Our partnership with Surrey Women’s Centre means that women and girls have someone to provide them with emotional support and practical assistance by helping them navigate
complex medical, legal and social service systems to increase their safety and ensure ongoing support.” S.M.A.R.T continues to support women and girls in the days and weeks that follow an assault.
S.M.A.R.T is launching an ad campaign to increase awareness about the services available starting June 18, 2012.
The Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team is funded by the Department of Justice Canada, St.Mary’s Health Foundation of New Westminster, Newman Foundation, Royal LePage Coronation Park, Al Roadburg and Lohn Foundation.
For more information about the Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team visit:
SMART Project Manager, Surrey Women’s Centre
Executive Director, Surrey Women’s Centre