Understanding Your Rights - Navigating Next Steps

Uncategorized Sep 16, 2020

One of the biggest barriers to accessing justice for survivors is understanding where to begin. There is no handbook guiding survivors on how to report sexual violence. If you are a survivor and have felt lost in the process you are not alone. 

She Matters exists (in part) to educate survivors on our rights - and put up a good fight when our rights are being violated! Regardless of location, we are here for you. Consider this your welcome to the She Matters Community - from today moving forward you are not alone. 

Navigating the reporting process can be confusing. Fear of the unknowns are natural. We have all been there. After experiencing sexual violence our emotions are raw and many survivors feel numb inside. We have just lived through an unimaginable trauma and now we have to figure out next steps. So many questions run through our minds. One of the most common thoughts is, "what is the right choice?" It's okay not to have all of the answers. The truth is, there is no "right way" to heal from sexual violence. 

You can choose to report and undergo a sexual assault kit, then proceed to report to police and seek justice through the legal system. 

You can choose to seek treatment from the hospital but refrain from undergoing a sexual assault kit. Exclusively seeking medical treatment but choosing not to access justice through the legal system. 

You can choose to seek treatment from the hospital and undergo a sexual assault kit, but not report at this time. There may be an option in your community to hold onto your sexual assault kit for a period of time while you decide if you would like to seek justice through the legal system or not. 

You can choose to seek support through counselling services, but not report to hospital or police. 

Whatever you choose, whatever feels right for you, that is the right choice. 

Your comfort and healing comes first, above everything. 

In many communities around the there will be local sexual assault centers which can provide you with in-person counselling services and information regarding the reporting process in your region. In most cases, these services will be helpful. 

For our complete guide to understanding your rights as a survivor please listen to Episodes 4 and 5 of the She Matters Podcast, accessible here by visiting this link. https://www.shematters.ca/she-matters-podcast

In these episodes we break down survivors rights from the Canadian context. In the coming weeks we will be exploring survivors rights from the US, Kenyan and UK context. 

She Matters is a community of survivors and allies united in support and healing. What does this mean? It means that our team has been where you are. We have experienced sexual violence. We have had to make these difficult decisions which ultimately determine whether or not we will seek justice through the legal system. Each and every one of us has chosen a different path to healing, and the beautiful thing is that we did so without even a drop of judgement for the other persons choice. 

If you are feeling absolutely lost in this process, or you simply need someone to talk to from a peer to peer perspective, we are here for you. We can't tell you what is the right answer, but we can support you while you decide what works best for you. 

You are not alone. 

You are worthy of healing. 

You are stronger than you know. 

Together we rise. 



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