(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Increased demand for sexual assault services prompts new province-wide talk-text-chat line

A new talk-text-and-chat service was launched Monday to support survivors of sexual violence.

One Line is a provincewide, first-response platform that connects survivors to local and regional services.

Alberta’s #IBelieveYou campaign and the #MeToo movement have dramatically increased demand for sexual assault services. In some centres, demand has more than doubled.

One Line is a specialized response to that growing demand.

“We’ve known for years that people are most likely to reach out to friends and family after experiencing sexual violence,” said Deb Tomlinson, CEO of the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services.

“When they’re ready, One Line is the next step.”

Based on the experience of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre in Red Deer, text and chat is an effective means of initial support. The centre pioneered the first text and webchat sexual assault crisis line in Canada beginning in 2016.

“This technology provides access, control, anonymity and psychological safety for survivors that makes it easier for them to reach out,” said Tomlinson.

“We want survivors to know: we believe you; it’s not your fault; and when you’re ready, help is only a smartphone away.”

Anyone can call-text-chat by contacting 1-866-403-8000.

One Line will be staffed by trained, specialized responders, both paid and volunteer. Support will be available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week with access to interpretation services in more than 200 languages, including Cree.

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