At WAVAW, we receive a lot of informational requests from students for their school projects. We thought we would share some of our responses! Here is a Q&A with Sexual Assault Counsellor, Rebecca Berman:
What is the role of a sexual assault counselor?
WAVAW Sexual Assault Counsellors support women in their healing through individual counselling and facilitating support groups. We explore the societal factors that impact women’s interactions with the world. We also believe that that women choose their own path to healing and justice, so we adapt our counselling style to their needs at different stages of the process.
How has working in this field affected you personally?
Personally, I am impacted daily by the strength and resilience I see in women. I am inspired by how these women reclaim their stories and keep moving forward.
What is the best part of your job?
I am honoured that women share their path to healing with me. Allowing the healing process to occur takes a lot of courage and resilience. Knowing that women trust me to go on that journey alongside them is very special. I also love seeing the diverse ways that women define healing and where they find their paths. It brings me so much joy when a woman reframes a part of her story to find strength and resilience in something that she previously felt kept her stuck in place or was holding her back.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
I find the waitlist very challenging. We currently have a waitlist of over year and a half for one-to-one counselling. It takes a lot of courage for women to reach out and ask for support and when they do, they unfortunately have to wait for service.
I also find it challenging when I’m supporting a woman who is trying to navigate systems that promote rape myths as fact and victim blaming. Systems, institutions and individual perpetrators must be held accountable for perpetuating violence against women.
What is the recovery process like for a survivor of sexual assault?
There is no defined recovery process. Women respond to sexualized violence differently, and have the right to choose their own path to healing and justice.
Can you tell me a little about the work that WAVAW does?
Counselling: Provides individual counselling and support groups. Aboriginal Women’s counselling and Aborginal Family Counselling is also available. Members of the counselling team are also part of community committees, such as The Coalition on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the National Aboriginal Day Planning Committee.
Victim services: Provides crisis line support as well as hospital accompaniments, interactions with the police and the justice system.
Outreach: Connects with schools, organizations, and other parts of the larger community to bring awareness to the impacts of sexual assault and what these institutions can do to support survivors and shift society.
Activism: WAVAW engages in women’s rights activism in many different ways.