MPP Lorne Coe with Krista MacNeil, Jocelyn Siciliano-Region of Durham, Karly Church – VSDR Community Engagement Manager  and Regional Chair John Henry (images supplied)

Sexual violence has grown seven times since 2019: VSDR

Incidents of sexual violence alone are growing by more than seven times since 2019, according to Krista MacNeil, Executive Director, Victim Services of Durham Region (VSDR).

“Our agency supported 3,500 victims of gender based violence in 2023 with incidents of sexual violence alone growing by more than seven times since 2019,” MacNeil said after a meeting on Thursday with Whitby MPP Lorne Coe.

“Femicide rates have risen drastically across our country, particularly in Ontario. We must increase our outreach efforts to ensure critical early intervention and prevention supports are accessible to all victims of gender-based violence before it is too late,”. MacNeil said.

MPP Coe was meeting with VSDR team at the Region of Durham’s offices in Whitby to hear more about the difference that a $177,000 Resilient Communities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in 2022 has had on its work in the area. Over the last two years, the OTF grant has supported expansion of outreach services for victims at various locations across Durham such as Back Door Mission, Lakeridge Health and the Durham Regional Police Special Victims Unit by helping with staffing and some administrative costs.

“With this funding, we have supported an additional 600 women since the end of 2022 and will support our capacity to continue this trend to the end of 2024,” added MacNeil.

MPP Coe, also Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, said: “Since 2020, the Government of Ontario has invested over $15.5 million into local police services and victim service support groups in Durham Region and across the province to better protect our communities.”

As a steering committee member for the Violence Prevention Coordinating Council of Durham and Chair of the Human Trafficking Coalition, VSDR has been at the forefront of provincial advocacy to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic and address gaps in services for all victims of Gender-Based Violence.

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