A new interview room at the Battlefords and Area Sexual Assault Centre in Saskatchewan is helping victims of sexual and gender-based violence speak with police in a more comfortable environment.
The room features relaxing furniture and warm colours, and was established in partnership with the North Battleford RCMP.
We've had times where clients come here and they've been assaulted, but they don't want to go to the RCMP. They're scared, embarrassed, experiencing all sorts of emotions," says Amber Stewart, the Centre's executive director. "
To have the RCMP come here, and victims knowing they have the support here, will hopefully help people feel safe in sharing their story."
Before creating the new space, victims reporting an assault had to visit the downtown RCMP detachment, wait in the institutional atmosphere and walk through the detachment to the interview room.
It wasn't a warm and friendly environment," says S/Sgt. Jason Teniuk, the North Battleford detachment operations officer who worked closely with Stewart on the interview room. "
The new space is in a house in a residential area and it's very welcoming."
The interview room also helps eliminate other barriers that could prevent someone from reporting an assault, such as childcare.
Sometimes you can't go into the detachment because you have young kids and no one to watch them. Now they can come here and play in our waiting room or watch TV or colour with our staff," says Stewart, adding that the Centre also has tools for conducting police interviews with children.
Helping victims feel more at ease can help police complete an effective interview.
When we take a statement from someone, they're reliving the entire experience in great detail and that can create a lot of trauma," says Teniuk. "
If we can alleviate some of that with the environment and support, maybe it won't be as traumatic when they have to recount the experience."
Through its work with the Battlefords and Area Sexual Assault Centre, the RCMP is strengthening its relationship with the community.
We're really encouraged about the impact this will have on the community in being another resource for victims," says Teniuk. "
This example of partnership and collaboration is at the core of community safety. We all have a common goal, and that's to help people."