Patricia Arango, executive director of Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, talks about the launch of its new sexual assault support text line/webchat and the promotion of its #IRespect public awareness campaign. (Advocate file photo)

Empowering resilience through the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre

Organization recognizing Victims and Survivoers of Crime Week

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre wants victims and survivors to know they are not alone.

During Victims and Survivors of Crime Week, which runs until Saturday, the centre is sharing the I Respect and I Believe campaigns on their social media streams, specifically Facebook, hoping to show victims and survivors of crime the community supports them.

Shalea Harder-Mah, the support centre’s summer intern, said the week aims to give a more effective voice to victims and survivors of crime, as well as their families and supporters.

“We have people sharing their stories anonymously,” said Harder-Mah. “The I Respect and I Believe campaigns have gained a lot of traction in the community.”

The I Respect campaign, which started in 2014, features a sign where someone writes down something they respect, examples include “all women,” “diversity” and “people’s right to choose.” They then get their picture taken with the sign and it is posted to social media.

The support centre will also have a booth set up at Parkland Mall from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday.

Harder-Mah also talked about the attempt to get away from the idea of “rape culture” and replace it with respect culture.

“It’s fostering the culture of respect,” said Harder-Mah. “Often you’ll hear about the words rape culture, but we wanted to start with the more preventative measures and focus on respect culture.

“Respect is related to a lot of issues including bullying, harassment and sexual violence. If we can get people to be more respectful then we’ll have fewer issues.”

One of the goals of the week is to help victims and survivors share their stories and let other victims know they are not alone and help them through the process.

The support centre offers a wide range of services includes counselling, therapy, prevention, text and web crisis chat line, the sexual assault response team and family interventions.

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