Victims face longer waits for medical help at Montreal Sexual Assault Centre

·2 min read
Dèby Trent, director of the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre, says those who come in will face a delay during the daytime.  (Jennifer Yoon/CBC - image credit)
Dèby Trent, director of the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre, says those who come in will face a delay during the daytime. (Jennifer Yoon/CBC - image credit)

Victims of sexual assault who seek medical services at the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre will have to wait until after hours to get them for at least this week and next.

The centre, located downtown near the Guy-Concordia Metro station, is one of two in the city that provides medical and social support for victims of sexual assault 18 and over.

In the past, doctors from the nearby CLSC Métro would be available to see assault victims right away, during working hours, Monday to Friday.

But now the local health authority, CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, is restructuring the way medical services are offered, and for a short time victims will have to see a doctor elsewhere.

"All victims of sexual assault continue to be seen in a timely fashion and will receive care, including swabs, forensic exams and psychosocial support," said CIUSSS spokesperson Barry Morgan in an email.

"Any changes will be communicated when, and if, necessary. Access to services will be assured for all victims."

Dèby Trent, director of the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre, said those who come in will face a delay during the daytime, but counsellors will take care of them, and a medical professional will see them within 24 hours.

"They may have to be seen at the hospital. But we will see them. We will take care of them," said Trent.

Still, one front-line worker who works directly with survivors of sexual violence is worried victims will fall through the cracks.

They are concerned survivors of sexual assault are losing services and resources at a time when they are very needed, they said.

They're also worried about forensic evidence being lost because no doctor is available to conduct the exam in a timely way.

 

Cassandra Richards is a criminal defence lawyer who does research on sexual violence at McGill University.

She said the decision to go to a clinic for a medical examination after sexual assault is a difficult one, and timely medical exams are essential for those who want one.

"It's important that they're treated and seen right away, because they've decided to go for one, and you don't want that person to turn around and decide they don't want to be seen anymore," said Richards.

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