In our work towards the liberation of womyn and children, we have come to recognize how difficult it is to start a different life in a new country, especially when you do not have anyone to help and support you. Adjusting to a new language, a new culture and a new way of living can be tough and isolating.
We have been supporting survivors of violence for approximately twenty years. Our approach is survivor-directed, which means our information comes from womyn directly. We believe that womyn are the experts on their lives and can make the right choices for themselves and their families.
Based on a 1992 needs assessment, in 1995 SASC started a project aimed at contacting diverse womyn from various communities throughout the Ottawa-Carleton region to share ideas on womyn’s experience of wartime rape and torture. We called this project ‘Women and War’.
The project involved outreach and information exchange with five communities of womyn of colour and refugee women, attempting to contact directly the womyn who had experienced wartime rape and torture in their country of origin. One of the primary objectives of the project was to name and describe barriers to reaching social services faced by these womyn.
Our second objective was to strengthen our ties with immigrant and refugee womyn in our region and to document their expressed needs. Our long-term objective was to provide support services based on these needs that were accessible and culturally appropriate to womyn who had experienced war, rape and torture.
We were able to obtain knowledge of the widespread barriers, such as the lack of community supports for womyn and the lack of services, within a feminist, anti-oppression framework. We learned that many womyn did not want to talk about their experiences of war. They considered it to be “in the past” or that it was “too painful.” Rather, the womyn wanted to focus on their present and future circumstances. Following the recommendations from the womyn who took part in the Womyn and War project the Womyn, War, Rape and Torture Program became a core program of SASC in 1997. Our program is unique in Ontario due to the way in which it adapts to the changing dynamics and barriers faced by womyn’s needs in our community.
Program & Services
The services within our Women and War program include:
- Individual support.
- Advocacy around womyn’s rights and gender-based discrimination.
- Accompaniment and referrals around medical, legal and immigration issues.
- Building networks with diverse communities.
- Outreach and public education around the issues faced by survivors of war, rape and torture.
- Raising awareness and sensitivity to the issues of immigrant and refugee womyn and their families.
- Opportunities to talk with other womyn on issues that are important to the womyn in their communities.
- Opportunities to set up informal support networks in their communities.
We believe supporting the survivors of wartime violence against womyn is essential to our work. We provide a holistic approach in cooperation with organizations, communities and families. If you come for support, your privacy and feeling of safety are our first concern.