Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault and Abuse
In my role as an intake coordinator at Jellinek Ellis Gluckstein Lawyers, I have learned that survivors of sexual abuse deal with trauma in their own way. But what never changes is the need to treat clients with kindness, respect and understanding.
If you have decided to take legal action following a sexual assault I am here to listen to your concerns. I am the first point of contact a client has with our firm, serving as the bridge to our experienced team of lawyers.
Sexual assault is an all-too-common occurrence in Canada. Sadly, there was a sharp rise in police-reported incidents in 2021, according to Statistics Canada. It was the highest, in fact, since 1996. And despite the increase in public discussion of sexual violence issues, StatsCan states the number of sexual assaults reported to police is likely to be significantly lower than what is actually occurring.
Survivors often reluctant to come forward
While that news is disheartening, it is hardly surprising. Sexual assault survivors can face skepticism, blame and stigma. According to the Department of Justice “sexual assault complainants have frequently experienced the criminal justice system as a place that re-traumatizes and even harms them.”
There are many reasons sexual assault survivors may be reluctant to step forward
- shame or embarrassment
- apprehension about family or friends finding out – especially if the perpetrator is a family member, part of their social circle or is someone in a position of power
- fear of being stereotyped
- fear of having to reveal sensitive personal information
- the prospect of being retraumatized by sharing details of the assault or testifying in court
Reporting an assault to the police can be the first step in the healing process. It should be noted that there is no time limit to filing charges for sexual assault. It is also important to know it is not necessary to pursue a criminal case to seek justice or restitution. You can also file a civil claim.
At Jellinek Ellis Gluckstein Lawyers we are here to explain all of your options. As experienced sexual assault lawyers, we take what is known as a trauma-informed approach, providing a safe atmosphere that allows you to feel comfortable while sharing your experience.
Many of our clients have never talked to anybody about what has happened to them and are apprehensive when they pick up the phone. But it is important to remember that what you tell us remains in the strictest of confidence. There are no judgments and no right or wrong answers. You control the dialogue and how the conversation will go. You can disclose as much, or as little, as you are comfortable with.
There may moments when you struggle, but that is normal. We can stop, take a breath and continue at your pace. The idea is to establish trust.
In our first conversation, I will walk you through our intake process and let you know what it will entail. I will ask for some general information such as your address, email address and date of birth. I will ask you to describe what led up to the incident and how it has impacted your life.
Very often sexual assault survivors can be suspicious or afraid to put their trust in someone. They want to know why they are being asked so many questions and wonder about the need to provide so much information. Again, it is natural to be wary. I understand these concerns and welcome your questions. The more I can explain our process, the easier it is for clients to be able to feel they are going to be heard.
That initial call can be liberating. Many people have told me that it was really beneficial to open up and share their experiences.
Helping you to navigate the system
As a social service worker counselling the elderly and their families about how to navigate the long-term care system, I learned the value of empathy.
Simona Jellinek recruited me to join her law firm because of this empathy. She wanted someone who could relate to vulnerable potential new clients working for her.
Simona, has dedicated her life to helping survivors of sexual trauma in their journey toward healing. She is one of Canada’s most experienced and successful lawyers in the complex and unique area of sexual abuse and assault litigation.
Simona has always been progressive in her thinking. She is client-focused with a great understanding of mental health issues. Simona moved her firm to Gluckstein Lawyers along with Erin Ellis to form Jellinek Ellis Gluckstein, specializing in sexual abuse cases. Like Simone, Gluckstein Lawyers, led by Charles Gluckstein, believes in putting the well-being of the client at the forefront.
As I have progressed in my role as an intake coordinator, I have updated my credentials, taking courses to enhance my skills in the trauma-informed approach to law. To me, continuing education is the key to effectively assisting sexual assault survivors.
Once we have our initial call, I will present your case to one of our team, who will take about a week to review your file. I will then contact you to let you know if we can help. If we are not able to take your case, I will explain why.
Typically, my role ends there, although because we have built a rapport some clients have been known to call back just to talk. They feel they can trust me. They may be having a bad day and they just want a few minutes of my time to vent. I am always happy to oblige.
Contact us when you are ready
At Jellinek Ellis Gluckstein, we realize a civil lawsuit will not undo the damage caused by a sexual predator. However, as personal injury lawyers we know it can be a significant step forward, possibly allowing you to find closure and get on with the next stage of your life.
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