December 5, 2023 Dec 05, 2023 8 min read
If you or someone you care about has experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, familiarizing yourself with a domestic violence and sexual assault resource centre near you is a great idea. These centres provide critical services to victims and survivors as they navigate the emotional, social, legal, and medical challenges associated with escaping and recovering from violence and abuse.
In this article, we’ll cover all the ins and outs of a domestic violence and sexual assault resource centre so that you know exactly what to expect before you go.
Known by several different names (including “rape crisis centre”), domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres provide a range of critical support services to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. These services commonly include counseling, legal and medical advocacy, hotline and crisis line support, support groups, and more.
While most resource centres of this nature serve both sexual assault and domestic violence victims and their families, some may serve a more specific population of sexual assault survivors only. Check the list of services provided by the resource centre near you for more specific information.
Most domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres operate as non-profit or non-governmental organizations, providing services at no charge to the populations they serve.
(For the sake of brevity, “domestic violence and sexual assault” is often abbreviated as “DV and SA.”)
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Depending on where you live, you may sometimes find DV/SA resource centres referred to as “advocacy” organizations. But what exactly does “advocacy” mean in this context?
A person working or volunteering as a victim/survivor advocate may serve a range of functions to advocate for and support the clients they serve. This term is typically used when discussing populations who require direct social, legal, or medical support from a social service organization.
An advocate may accompany someone to a court hearing, help them fill out necessary court paperwork or file a police report, or support them during a hospital rape kit exam. Essentially, an advocate serves in a support role for the victim/survivor as they navigate the medical, legal, and social service systems.
The services provided by each domestic violence and sexual assault resource centre will vary by location. However, some services can reliably be found at most resource centre locations.
Some of the most common services provided by DV/SA resource centres include:
One of the most important functions performed by resource centres like these is their ability to connect victims and survivors with the resources and services they need. While a DV/SA resource centre might not offer every critical service a victim/survivor needs, they can connect that person with the organizations that can. For example, resource centres often connect victims with emergency shelters, help acquire free cell phones, and connect victims with child service organizations.
In short, if you are a victim or survivor of sexual assault or domestic violence in need of any form of information, support, guidance, or assistance, calling your local domestic violence and sexual assault resource centre is an excellent first step.
One of the easiest ways to locate a domestic violence and sexual assault resource centre near you is by using the Go Thrive Go search tool. Using our tool, you can search by service and location (Canada only) to quickly find the information you need.
Alternatively, try searching for “domestic violence and sexual assault resource centre” or “rape crisis centre” plus the name of your region using your preferred search engine.
Resource centres like these are not available everywhere, but they can be found in all major cities throughout North America and the UK, as well as in many smaller cities and some towns. Fortunately, many domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres offer services online and over the phone, so you may be able to seek help even if you do not live within driving distance of a centre location.
Yes. Domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres adhere to strict confidentiality policies to keep their clients safe. However, while some centres maintain confidential locations, others may be public facing.
No. The services provided by domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres come at no charge to the people who use them. These centres are typically funded by a combination of government allocated social service funding, grant funding, private donorship, etc. to ensure service costs do not land on those in need.
No. While some rape crisis centres may be connected to or associated with a local emergency shelter, they typically are not the same thing or located in the same place. That said, all domestic violence, sexual assault, and rape crisis centres can connect clients with information about emergency shelters in relevant areas.
This depends. Some organizations offer services to all victims of domestic violence and sexual assault regardless of gender, while others may limit their services to women and girls only. However, these organizations should be equipped to refer male victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to the relevant resources and organizations that can help them.
Understanding when and why to take advantage of the services provided by domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres is important for all victims and survivors. Whether you’re dealing with the emotional and psychological challenges of surviving assault or abuse or seeking support when navigating the legal system, resource centres like these can support the full spectrum of victim and survivor needs.
For more help preparing to call or visit a domestic violence and sexual assault resource centre, check out our article “What to Expect When Visiting a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resource Centre.”
Domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres provide a range of critical support services to victims and survivors, include counselling services, legal and medical advocacy, crisis lines, support groups, and more. These organizations are also skilled at connecting victims and survivors with a range of other programs and organizations providing critical services such as emergency shelter, free cell phones, etc. DV/SA resource centres (sometimes called “rape crisis centres”) can be found in all major cities in North America and the UK, as well as most smaller cities and some towns. While most resource organizations like these are equipped to serve victims and survivors of domestic violence, some serve sexual assault victims and survivors exclusively. The services provided by domestic violence and sexual assault resource centres are free of charge to the populations they serve.
Dana Anastasia (they/them) is an independent writer, editor, podcaster, and artist. With a degree in interdisciplinary sociology and a background in domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy, Dana brings a keen awareness of victim and survivor needs and experiences to their work. Learn more at www.danaanastasia.com.
November 28, 20239 min read