“Mary” had first accessed the community crisis services as a crisis line caller. She had been sexually abused as a child and had survived a recent sexual assault while on a date. The recent sexual assault had triggered unresolved effects of her childhood trauma, which left her feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. She explained that she “didn’t see a way out”. She felt trapped and without options. Calling the crisis line was her last resort before taking her life. The crisis line worker explained the services of the United Way supported Sexual Assault Centre to her. She told Mary she would be able to spend time with a counsellor who could support her in decisions she would like to make about the sexual assault, as well as the affects of childhood sexual abuse. Mary sadly disclosed that due to her trauma she was not able to work for sometime and could not afford counselling. Upon hearing that there was no cost for the services, Mary gratefully accepted an appointment. She began seeing a counsellor on a weekly basis and continued for 22 months. She also began attending a group called “Reclaiming our Voices”. Listening to other women share their own personal challenges and triumphs helped Mary to breakdown her feelings of isolation. Through the United Way supported Sexual Assault Centre, she was able to connect with other community supports – such as employment and retraining opportunities, budgeting support and yoga – in order to rebuild her life.
Sexual violence can have psychological, emotional, and physical effects on a survivor, all of which can severely impact their mental health. When someone’s mental health is compromised, it can negatively affect all aspects of their life, from education and career, to relationships and overall well-being. United Way partners with local, front-line agencies to deliver vital programs and services that focus on belonging, inclusion, positive mental health and connection to support in our communities.