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Hamilton’s SACHA launches online chat and text service for sexual assault survivors

SACHA, a non-profit organization in Hamilton providing numerous support systems to locals who have experienced sexualized violence, has launched a further means of aiding the community with new virtual support options.

These virtual options include a new online chat and text chat service, which offers accessible support to Hamilton residents who need it. These initiatives were launched earlier this month on, fittingly, International Women’s Day.

“Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day orig­i­nat­ed from the 1910 Inter­na­tion­al Social­ist Women’s Con­fer­ence as a cel­e­bra­tion of the strength of women and a call to action for rad­i­cal social reform,” reads a statement on SACHA’s website.

“It is with this spir­it of Inter­na­tion­al Women’s day that we launch our new WebChat & Text Sup­port Ser­vice, a part of SACHA’s response to COVID that chan­nels the strengths and com­mit­ment of the fem­i­nist move­ment to sup­port sur­vivors of sex­u­al­ized vio­lence of all genders.”

SACHA also notes the increased need for these virtual services as brought on by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has increased the need for SACHA’s 24-Hour Sup­port Line. How­ev­er, we know that lock­down mea­sures and require­ments to stay home can also mean a lack of pri­va­cy (when iso­lat­ing with oth­ers), and a lack of safe­ty (when iso­lat­ing with an abuser) for some sur­vivors,” they said.

“This can be a bar­ri­er to access­ing sup­port lines over the phone.”

Any individuals over the age of 16 are eligible to access the virtual service, which is currently available on Mondays from 4 pm to 12 am, Thursdays from 4 pm to 12 am, Fridays from 8 am to 12 pm, and Sundays from 4 pm to 8 pm.

Trained volunteers will be on hand to communicate in real time with those who use the service, offering non-judgemental listening, support, information, and help to explore potential options.

In the interest of increased safety, the platform SACHA is using also provides end-to-end encryption, meaning no conversations are saved or logged anywhere. Those who make use of the service are also free to provide as little or as much personal information as they may be comfortable with.

SACHA’s new WebChat and Text Support Service can be accessed by visiting their website.

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