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In 2022, Statistics Canada reported 129,876 cases of police-documented family violence and 117,093 incidents of intimate partner violence among individuals aged 12 and above. Yet, these numbers only scratch the surface, with many victims choosing not to disclose their experiences to law enforcement. Quinte Health’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Program (DVSARP) functions as a beacon of support in the communities we serve, extending compassionate, connected care to those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.

The DVSARP team, comprised of specially trained nurses, operates 24/7. The program supports over 100 patients per year and operates under a fundamental principle: It is the victim’s choice to decide which services they wish to use. The DVSARP team helps victims understand their options and support their decisions throughout the process.

At the heart of Quinte Health’s DVSARP program is an empathetic and victim-centric approach. The team is comprised of Manager Heather Leonard, Coordinator Rachael Fraser and Follow-up Nurse Anne-Marie Maloney. This small but mighty team provides individualized care, ensuring that each victim’s unique needs are met, contributing to a supportive and empowering environment for survivors.

According to Rachael, while it can be a difficult topic to navigate, it is absolutely critical we talk about it.  “We are mandated to ask everyone over the age of 12 if they’ve ever experienced domestic violence or sexual violence,” she adds. “We must ask these questions to let our patients know we are here, we care, and we can help. It is integral to assessing care needs – no different than a clinician asking about bowel movements or the possibility of pregnancy.”

The team places a strong emphasis on confidentiality, recognizing the sensitive nature of domestic violence and sexual assault cases. This commitment builds trust between victims and the DVSARP team, creating an environment where individuals feel safe to share their experiences and seek assistance without fear of judgment or further harm.

“The collaborative nature of the program ensures that victims receive not only immediate care but also access to long-term support,” explains Heather. “The team works closely with community partners to raise awareness and provide information about sexual assault and domestic violence, fostering a network of support beyond the hospital walls. I’m immensely proud of the work we do.”

The program’s services include assessment for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy; medical follow-up care to address the physical and psychological aspects of trauma; documentation and photography of injuries; offering, collecting and storing sexual assault evidence kits; and non-acute Pediatric Sexual Assault Clinic services for specialized care for younger victims. The team also facilitates communication between police and Children’s Aid Society as needed and connects victims with additional support services.

Click here for more information about Quinte Health’s DVSARP program, including how to access services. For urgent treatment, please present to any of the four Quinte Health Emergency Departments or call 613-969-7400, dial 0, and ask for a DVSARP nurse to be paged. External care providers can refer a patient to our program at any time, even if the violence was in the past.