35 years of compassionate care: Recognizing the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre
This article is being shared in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Thirty-five years ago, the Ministry of Health opened Ontario’s first hospital-based sexual assault care centre at Women’s College Hospital (WCH). Since then, 34 centres have been funded in hospitals across the province, comprising the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres (ONSA/DVTC). With locations ranging from Windsor to Dryden to Ottawa, these centres provide comprehensive, timely and trauma-specific care to address the individual health, forensic and psychosocial needs of victims/survivors.
In addition to documenting injuries, collecting forensic evidence and addressing concerns about pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, ONSA/DVTC staff provide crisis intervention, safety planning, medical follow-up, counselling and referrals to community resources.
WCH shares the Network’s vision that all victims/survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence have access to compassionate services province-wide and beyond. The hospital’s ongoing support is reflected in the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, with their leadership role in redesigning sexual and reproductive healthcare for women and gender-diverse populations.
Sheila Macdonald, registered nurse and director of the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres, has been part of the team for 28 years. She continues to be inspired by the courage and strength of the clients who come forward for help, as well as the dedication of the nurses, physicians and counsellors that provide care.
“My hope is that all the ONSA/DVTC programs continue to work together to collaborate in education, professional development and research activities to build the expertise of clinicians and ultimately strengthen our services for our clients,” she says. “I hope our programs expand to other communities as there continue to be underserved regions. I also hope we evolve our program mandates to provide care to other victims of violence such as elder abuse, child physical abuse and victims of human trafficking.”
Janelle Noel, service coordinator for the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre at WCH, has been with WCH for 22 years.
“Although we may not be able to eradicate violence in our society, the idea that I am a part of the education and training of frontline clinicians across the province of Ontario makes me hopeful that we will increase awareness and access for all victims/survivors,” she says.
Attend a SA/DVCC lunch and learn session
Want to learn more about the SA/DVCC, the services it provides and the team? Attend a lunch and learn session on May 23 from 12 to 1 p.m. in room 6214.