Skip to content

Walk-in counselling program launches this week for sexual assault survivors

#MeToo and #TimesUp movements have created upswing in calls, requests for support, says Women's Support Network executive director
20190708 wsn kc
Staff of the Women's Support Network of York Region are shown here, including (from left) public education coordinator, Seema Allandini, and executive director Jackie Benn-John. File photo/NewmarketToday

The Women’s Support Network of York Region this week launches a new evening counselling program for survivors of past or recent sexual violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking, abuse, exploitation or rape.

The walk-in program begins Thursday, July 11 and runs from 4-8 p.m. at the network’s office at 1110 Stellar Dr., Unit 109, in Newmarket. Survivors will have access to immediate and in-person support from the network’s counsellors, on a first-come first-served basis only.  

The first session can begin as early as 4:15 p.m. and the last session of the night starts at 7:15 p.m. 

“Awareness of sexual violence is increasing, which is a significant and positive achievement,” Women's Support Network of York Region executive director Jackie Benn-John said. “With the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in the last year, community-based sexual assault centres have seen a significant upswing in calls and requests for support.” 

“These realities indicate a positive cultural shift in sexual violence awareness, but they also bring new service demands and new support-seekers,” Benn-John added. “In response, we created the walk-in counselling support option which will complement our ongoing counselling program, and provide immediate and in-person support to survivors of sexual violence in York Region.”

Who is eligible for walk-in counselling? 

The Women’s Support Network (WSN) welcomes: 

  • Woman-identified survivors of past sexual violence, including adults who experienced childhood sexual abuse 
  • Woman-identified survivors of recent sexual violence 
  • Survivors of sexual harassment, sexual abuse or rape 
  • Clients must be support-seekers who are not already in counselling at WSN with an ongoing counsellor 
  • New clients 
  • Clients on WSN’s existing waiting list for ongoing counselling 

Walk-in counselling is most appropriate for support-seekers who: 

  • Have completed an intake for ongoing counselling, but are currently on a waiting list for longer-term services
  • Have not completed an intake for ongoing counselling, and are thinking about giving counselling a try
  • Do not wish to initiate formal counselling intake: They simply wish to come to counselling when they choose to do so and are available
  • Have a less-predictable schedule or limited availability, and are unable to set an appointment in advance
  • Want to access support in-person, one-time only
  • Are new to WSN or York Region
  • Have a time-limited or immediate question or concern regarding information on reporting, supporting a loved one/family member, need a referral to another service, support with coping and dealing with difficult emotions or memories. 
  • Support with advocacy or completing paperwork 
  • Need help preparing for an upcoming event such as a court date, facing one’s abuser, or a challenging social situation. 

Walk-in counselling is meant to offer support to those who do not have ongoing supports in place and to provide support to individuals as needed, and on a short-term basis. It is not a substitute for sessions with one’s existing counsellor, or a place to access sessions additional to those provided through ongoing counselling.

Bus tickets are available for those needing assistance with transportation.

For more information, call 905-895-3646 or visit here.

The Women’s Support Network of York Region provides free, confidential services for women who have experienced sexual violence in York Region. It also operates a free crisis line 24 hours a day at 1-800-263-6734.

Kim Champion

About the Author: Kim Champion

Kim Champion is a veteran journalist and editor who covers Newmarket and issues that impact York Region.
Read more