The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) is a volunteer-run non-profit organization consisting of ten united volunteers as the forefront for educating, supporting and empowering those who have been sexually abused. For over thirty years, the CASASC has been operating out of Red Deer, Alberta and continues to provide an array of services to sexual assault victims regardless of age, gender or sexual orientation.
Originating in 1983, the CASASC joined forces with the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter on May 6, 1985. In May 1989, Dianne Howarth was named as the first Executive Director. They continued growing from there, and in 1992 the CASASC began offering crisis intervention to sexual assault victims and their families. The 24-hour help and distress phone line began operation in 1995. In June 2003, the CASASC was renamed the Crisis Centre in an effort to encourage younger people who needed support to come in. In June 2005, the Crisis Centre moved to its current location in Red Deer. On April 3, 2012, the Crisis Centre was renamed back to the CASASC to better reflect their purpose and intent. Along with their renaming came a new logo: two individuals hold their arms up high to signify healing and wellness. The colour green symbolizes growth, stability and endurance and blue represents faith, trust, healing and understanding. For over a year the Executive Director has been Patricia Arango, who brings expertise from Ontario where she was the Executive Director for the Chatham Kent Women Centre.
Patricia is passionate about reaching three goals. Her first goal is to remove the negative stigma that surrounds sexual assault. She believes the best way to do so is to talk about it. Heartbreakingly, some people are afraid to talk about their experiences and are frightened of the connotations involved with coming to a facility like the CASASC. However, talking about traumatic events leads to increased awareness – her second goal. Patricia endeavours to increase community awareness and by doing so, this aids in the prevention of sexual assaults. This goal embodies the CASASC vision of Central Alberta being a safer, healthier and more informed community surrounding the issues of sexual assault and sexual abuse. Her final goal is respect on two levels. First – that others respect what the CASASC does for victims and secondly, that victims respect themselves.
Prevention is the fundamental key as reinforced by Patricia. By making as many people aware about sexual abuse as possible, the damage can be mitigated. The No Secrets program, designed for children from Kindergarten to Grade 6, is to educate children about good and bad secrets as well as good and bad touch. They are currently adopting a new play therapy program which involves training an on premise dog for comfort. For older kids, the CASASC offers education about what sexual harassment entails, having good self-esteem and self-respect, healthy social media skills and what constitutes a healthy relationship.
Lack of public volunteer support makes for less funds towards prevention and awareness programs as well as general operations. Client numbers are steadily increasing and the wait list is months long. That said, the CASASC is working towards making themselves better known within the community. I have been personally moved to care and help out such an admirable cause. It’s a stark and appalling reality but thankfully there are organizations such as the CASASC that foster healing from sexual abuse. Their mandate is clear as the volunteers are committed to ending the culture of sexual violence and helping to build safer communities for all Central Albertans.
F12 Networks has been a proud partner of Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre for over a year. I would like to encourage you to find out more about Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre and ways to help their cause by visiting http://casasc.ca