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Self-referral program to assist victims, families of sexual violence
Nicole Long is the face of the Sexual Violence Outreach Program of Cumberland County, a new service funded by the Nova Scotia Sexual Violence Strategy. Her office is located in Amherst.
©Christopher Gooding – TC Media
Amherst – A new service in the area offers a source of strength for those hurt by sexual violence.
Nicole Long is the Sexual Violence Outreach worker for Cumberland County. Working out of the Autumn House’s Russell Street office, Long has spent the last few months networking with resources and services to create a foundation to assist victims of sexual violence. With those now in place Long, the Autumn House and the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland County and the Cumberland County Interagency Committee on Family and Sexual Violence are letting the public know that if they have been impacted by sexual violence, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or when it happened – Long is here to help.
“It’s completely confidential, supportive and non-judgmental,” Long said.
The role of the sexual violence out reach worker, Laong said, is to support the victim, whether it is accompaniment to police or medical services, counseling or being an ear to listen. It's a service that’s extended to not just the victim but the victim’s family as well. Sexual violence, Long says, impacts so many in so many different ways that its worth defining what sexual violence is.
“A lot of people, when they think of sexual violence, their mind probably goes to the worse case scenario – sexual violence equals rape. But what we’re trying to let people know and inform people is that sexual violence is so broad just because you weren’t raped, per se, doesn’t mean you didn’t experience sexual violence,” Land said. “ There’s such a huge umbrella. It could be inappropriate sexual touching without your consent. It could be if someone was repeatedly asking you on a date or engage in sexual activity and they are not accepting you saying no, that’s also sexual violence.”
It’s Long’s hope to get the message across that because of the broad definition, anyone who feels they could use or need the support can send a text, email, or make a the call for assistance.
“If they experience something or feel impacted… they can call. And if they’re not sure, or if they don’t think they meet the qualifications, they can call or text and ask.”
Online, the Sexual Violence Outreach of Cumberland County website can be found at http://svowcumbco.wixsite.com/svocc or on Facebook by search for Sexual Violence Outreach Program - Cumberland County. Long can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, phoning 902–694-7869 during office hours, Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you are in need of immediate assistance outside of normal hours, contact 902-667-1200 or visit you nearest local emergency health centre.
The Sexual Violence Outreach Program for Cumberland County is a no-fee service.
What is consent?
Consent is an agreement between people to engage in sexual activity. There are many ways to give consent:
• Saying “yes,” “sure” or “I’ll try it” to certain activities
• Checking in with your partner and asking “is this okay?”
• Using physical cues to show you are comfortable (ex. nodding your head yes, smiling)
Consent does not look like this:
• If somebody refuses to accept “no” for an answer
• If somebody assumes that you want to have sex just because you dress or look a certain way
• If somebody assumes that you want to have sex just because you flirted with them or kissed them
• If somebody pressures you into sexual activity by scaring or intimidating you
• If somebody assumes that you want to engage in sexual activity with you them because you did in the past
• Engaging in sexual activity with somebody who is under the legal age of consent
• Engaging in sexual activity with somebody who is drunk or high
SOURCE: Sexual Violence Outreach of Cumberland County