CCH’s Assault and Sexual Abuse Program Offers Help and Support
May is Sexual Assault Prevention Month in Ontario. This
month is dedicated to raising awareness of the effects of sexual violence in
our community and emphasizing the need for assistance and resources for those
affected by sexual assault.
In the aftermath of a sexual assault, survivors can face
extremely difficult and painful emotions and experiences. The trauma of being
assaulted can leave people feeling scared, angry, guilty, anxious, and sad. The
stigma associated with sexual assault may cause some to feel embarrassed or
ashamed. Many people don’t know or where to get the help.
Fortunately, local victims and survivors of sexual assault
or intimate partner violence can access Cornwall Community Hospital’s (CCH)
Assault and Sexual Abuse Program (ASAP). These services are available to anyone
from Cornwall, the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, and
Akwesasne. ASAP nurses are on call around the clock, seven days a week and can
be at the hospital within 60 minutes.
These nurses can perform sexual assault evidence kits; assess
and treat injuries from sexual violence; offer testing for sexually transmitted
infections; and provide medications such as Plan B or to treat post-exposure
prophylaxis to HIV.
They are also specially trained in crisis compassion
counselling and can provide emotional support to victims, inform them of their
rights, and provide information on what might come next. They can also provide
advice on how victims can make a formal police report.
ASAP services aren’t only for crisis or emergency situations,
they are also available for anyone who has been a victim of sexual abuse or
intimate partner violence, at any time. Social workers are available to provide
psychotherapy and help survivors heal and cope with trauma.
“We’re giving power back to those who come for help. They
can tell us what would meet their needs at the moment and we’ll work with them
on addressing those needs, whether it be a crisis situation or follow-up care.
We’ll be your advocate,” says Natalie Bourgeois, Manager of ASAP at CCH.
While the decision to access ASAP services or have an ASAP
nurse attend in the Emergency Department is solely up to the patient’s
discretion, we would highly encourage any victim or survivor to take advantage
of this program at CCH.
“It is concerning is that our ASAP patient numbers had
decreased during the pandemic. This was not indicative of less sexual assaults
occurring, likely the impact that the pandemic had on patients seeking care. I
want to remind our community and any survivor that we’re here for you and that
our services are available any time you need them,” emphasizes Natalie.
Victims of sexual assault can access ASAP services at CCH by
presenting themselves to the Emergency Department and requesting an ASAP nurse
at any time. Survivors can also self-refer to ASAP by calling 1-866-263-1560 to
speak with a program nurse and discuss options. All ASAP services including
therapy are free of charge and patients remain confidential. Visit www.cornwallhospital.ca/en/AbuseProgram
to learn more.