Third-party reporting can help sexual assault victims in small communities: Klinic

Reporting sexual assaults in small communities can add an extra level of complication for victims, according to the executive director of a Winnipeg community health organization.

Klinic Community Health’s Nicole Chammartin told 680 CJOB that when incidents occur in tight-knit communities, the victim may be less inclined to report it.

This comes on the heels of a bombshell announcement from RCMP Thursday that three people have been arrested for sexual and physical abuse against 17 children at Garden Hill First Nation – with the potential for up to 150 more victims.

Chammartin said third-party reporting – which involves another person or organization going to police on behalf of the victim – can be useful in these circumstances.

“Most everybody in a small town knows each other, and so there’s a significant challenge in people not wanting to ruin relationships – not wanting to hurt people that might be friends or family of others,” she said.

“There’s also a high probability that they might have a relationship with that person, which can be really complicated and difficult.”

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Chammartin said the benefits of third-party reporting are two-fold – it can be empowering for victims to be able to tell their story, and it allows police to track patterns, for example if there’s a serial case happening in a certain community.

“One of the things we know is that sexual assault is one of the most unreported and underreported crimes nationally. What third-party reporting does is it allows us to collect more information and start to understand what’s really happening,” she said.

“There are many people who are nervous or afraid to make a police report, and that’s for a lot of reasons… but it can be empowering still for them to be able to tell their story and feel that they’re sharing their information in a helpful way.”

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