An online service has been launched that allows for the anonymous reporting of sexual assault or sexual violence.
Called Speak Out, the resource is partly designed to give police and advocates to gain a better understanding of the types of occurrences, where in the city they’re taking place, and the circumstances surrounding them. It is known that sexual violence occurrences are underreported to police.
Filling out a Speak Out report is different than reporting a crime to police, but it could assist officers in ongoing or future investigations, which could lead to a better chance of charges and convictions. Anyone over the age of 18 can use the resource. When reporting, users are provided with a reference code that could be used if a formal police report is filed in the future.
“We want to make it as accessible as possible for those who have experienced sexual violence to report it, even if they’re not comfortable coming to police, or reporting it under their name,” said Valarie Gates, Staff Sergeant with the Barrie Police Service. “Any information you provide is helpful, and might be the key that leads us to make an arrest or may allow us to press charges in a different investigation. Sharing your experience could help keep others safe or hold persons responsible for their actions.”
“Women in our services are very often afraid to report intimate details of their experience but have a desire to protect other women from becoming victims,” said Teresa MacLennan, Executive Director of the Women & Children’s Shelter Barrie. “The Speak Out app that is now available for sexual assault victims will be a great tool for reports to be made that respect anonymity and confidentiality of the victim. They may choose to identify themselves or not, but the app supports victims to share their experience and provide those details of their assault.