April 22, 2024

BY DEEANNA ROLLINSdr-sexual-violence

Approximately 460,000 sexual assaults happen in Canada every year. Only 3.3 per cent of these assaults are reported to police, and only 0.3 per cent of assailants are convicted.

That is the reason Laurie Snell, a Conestoga graduate, started The Sexual Violence Project, an online resource and support system for victims of sexual assault.

“It’s a network of people who have been through the same thing,” said Snell. “It doesn’t have to be taboo. I think if we all put our heads together, we can beat this.”

The project is meant to give people who have been through sexual assaults a place to go and search for solutions or to talk to someone who knows what they have been through.

“Sexual violence doesn’t discriminate,” said Snell. “It doesn’t care about sex, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity. It doesn’t care about anything.”

Visitors to the Sexual Violence Project’s website, www.sexualviolenceproject.com, can submit their stories online either with a name or anonymously.

Snell wants to show people that it is OK to talk about your assault and she wants people to know that they are not alone. One in every three women and one in every six men in Canada are assaulted at some point in their life.

At a Halloween party in 2009 Snell was assaulted by someone she considered a friend. Like 80 per cent of sexual assaults cases, Snell knew and trusted the man who assaulted her.

“He got me a drink and the next thing I knew the room started getting fuzzy,” she said. “I was fading in and out of consciousness. I tried to push him off of me but I couldn’t. Being stuck in your own body, unable to stay conscious or strong enough to fight back, is a nightmare no one should ever experience.”

Snell didn’t contact the police until after she found out that the man who assaulted her, did the same to another young woman.

“We had a shared experience, a different connection than I’ve ever had with anyone,” said Snell about the other woman.

“It changes you,” she said. “I was always really outgoing and social. This made me put up a shield. And I figured if I did, someone else probably did to.”

The Sexual Violence Project is meant to help people who can’t find help anywhere else.

“There is strength in numbers.”

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