Amid high-profile allegations, sexual assault victims urged to seek support

"It's not by staying silent that we can get by, but by using the support that's available," Plourde said. "Because of all that help, today I can say I'm no longer a victim"

Marie-Christine Michaud, left, and Marie-Claude Plourde at a news conference on Thursday: "If I didn't have the support and help I had, I don't know what I would have done," Plourde said. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

Amid a series of high-profile sexual assault allegations in Quebec, Marie-Claude Plourde decided to speak out Thursday, using her personal experience to explain how important it is for victims to seek support. 

“If I didn’t have the support and help I had, I don’t know what I would have done,” Plourde said during a news conference hosted by various victim support groups in Montreal. 

Plourde said she was sexually assaulted in the middle of the night seven years ago. She called 911 immediately. Police were never able to find the perpetrator. 

But she said the support she received in the aftermath helped her get through the experience.

While with police officers in the hours following the assault, she said, she couldn’t drink water, eat food, chew gum or wash. In an act of kindness she has never forgotten, the officers who accompanied her did the same. Later, support groups helped her navigate how to report the assault and cope with it happening. 

“It’s not by staying silent that we can get by, but by using the support that’s available,” Plourde said. “Because of all that help, today I can say I’m no longer a victim.”

The Montreal police force — which established a sexual assault hotline last week — and various support groups across Quebec say they’ve experienced an increase in phone calls from victims in the wake of high profile allegations that have come to light in recent weeks, including against Gilbert Rozon, the founding president of the Just for Laughs festival, and prominent television host Éric Salvail.

As of Thursday, the SPVM said it had received 320 calls. At the news conference, CAVAC Montreal, a group that lends support to crime victims, said it’s received roughly 50 more calls than usual per day since last week.

“It’s important to remind everyone that when the dust falls, and people go back to their day-to-day lives, victims and their loved ones continue to live through all kinds of emotions,” said Marie-Christine Michaud, a spokesperson for the network of CAVACs across the province. “They need to know we’re there for them.”

A similar increase was felt at the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre. Since the first news stories were published, the centre has received 115 phone calls from people contacting the centre for the first time, director Debbie Trent said.

“These are people who have lived through sexual assault some time ago, but the experience of hearing these stories has resurfaced difficult memories,” Trent said. “They call us because they want to talk to someone. Because they want to publicly denounce what happened.”


*In response to the recent allegations, legal aid clinic Juripop is inviting victims of sexual assault and misconduct to meet with their lawyers for advice this weekend. Separate clinics and information panels will be held Friday night and Saturday at the CAVAC offices, 6472 St-Laurent Blvd. Juripop will have 10 lawyers on hand offering free, confidential one-on-one meetings.

*The Montreal police sexual assault hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday and can be reached at 514-280-2079. In case of an emergency, or outside of those hours, the force says calling 911 is still the best option.

*The Montreal Sexual Assault Centre: 514 934-4504, cvasm.org/en, info@cvasm.ca

Pris de: http://montrealgazette.com/

Jesse Feith

Le 26 octobre 2017

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