(Marisela Amador The Eastern Door)
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After shocking allegations were posted on Twitter this summer, a sexual assault working group was formed by the top four organizations in the community.
The four organizations that make up the group are the Shakotiia’takéhnhas Community Services (KSCS), the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC), the Kahnawake Peacekeepers and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK).
The goal of the group is to ensure that everyone affected, including victims, their family and friends and perpetrators, are able to access any assistance needed to help deal with the impacts of sexual assault and trauma.
“We initially met after the march (the walk for survivors of sexual assault),” said MCK chief and the lead of the Health Portfolio, Rhonda Kirby.
“We talked about what was going on and how it’s not for one organization to try and address this alone. It has to be a concerted effort,” she said.
Each organization is looking at the different resources that are available while they work on a strategy together.
Some of the topics the group has discussed as part of their strategy include the mission, the goal, responsibilities and expectations.
“Those are the main things, and exactly who the composition of the group is,” said Kirby. KSCS already provides services for community members who have dealt with sexual assault and as well as for those who have begun their healing process.
“We just want to make sure that there’s a continuity between the four organizations and that there are no gaps in between the services. That’s one of the main ideas,” she said.
“It’s a community effort. We all have the responsibility in joining our efforts to make sure that there are equal opportunities for victims as well as for perpetrators.”
The group has chosen the slogan ‘You are not alone’ to remind everyone that support is readily available.
“The first call is probably the most difficult,” said KSCS manager of Prevention Services Stephanie Horne.
“Depending on the person, there are several options to either disclose or work on her/his sexual assault experience,” she said.
And although it is very difficult, the group stresses the importance of reaching out to a family member or a doctor or someone that can assist the person with their healing process.
“We want people to know that they are not alone and hope that they understand that we are there for them,” said Kirby.
The working group has also begun the process of increasing public awareness on both the problem and possible steps to address the issue.
A commitment has been made to ensure that the issue is addressed on a long-term basis, with sustainable actions and community outreach, according to the group.