The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.
Patricia Arango, the centre’s executive director, said in 2019 the nonprofit organization was receiving 80-90 calls a month and so far in 2021 it is receiving 150-180 calls per month.
“The increase is alarming and it’s keeping us very, very busy,” Arango said Friday afternoon.
One of the main reasons for the increase in calls over the past year or two is the pandemic keeping people at home, said Arango.
“Some have to quarantine with the abuser – that would be one reason,” she said.
“Another reason is that people are alone, and with the stress the pandemic is causing to everybody, it makes people (think) and post-traumatic stress would come back. They need to get some help.”
“Many people had an incident happen when they were a child and this is the moment where they need help and to reach out for someone to talk to.”
Calls from men and calls about historical sexual assaults have increased as well, she added.
The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre can get very busy at all times because it provides a 24/7 line for crisis information.
“The service that is offered by the government … in Edmonton and Calgary is Monday to Friday from 9 in the morning to 9 at night,” she said.
“Every night and weekends, we are the only one in the province taking the calls. That means we’ll get calls coming from many different places in Alberta.”
Arango said the centre is always looking for volunteers and financial support.
“We run the program 24 hours, seven days a week. We never stop,” she said.
“We offer the training, which is online so people don’t have to come here to do it. They need to sign up as a volunteer, then the volunteer co-ordinator will send a link and they’ll do the training.”
Most of the centre’s volunteers are students from universities and colleges. A team of professionals is always available to support the volunteers.
For more information on the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, visit www.casasc.ca.