The Willow Room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020. (Ann Davis Transitional Society)

The Willow Room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020. (Ann Davis Transitional Society)

New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

It’s estimated that only about 10 per cent of domestic violence, sexual assault, and gender-based violence ever gets reported to police.

The partners who’ve come together to carve out a safe space for women to report these incidents in Chilliwack are hoping to change that.

“To my knowledge this will be the first of its kind in the province,” Patti MacAhonic, executive director of the Ann Davis Transition Society. “It’s the way things should be done.”

The Willow Room will be located at 9046 Young Road in Chilliwack. It was specially designed as a “soft reporting” room to give victims of domestic violence and sexual assault an alternative to telling their story in the cold, institutional atmosphere of an RCMP detachment.

The Willow Room project, opening on Dec. 1, came about from a partnership between Ann Davis, the RCMP Domestic Violence Unit, Wilma House, Pearl Renewal Society, and Sto:lo Women. It will be available 24/7 with a crisis worker to help create in a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive and supported environment to talk about what happened with police.

A UBC study was commissioned by Ann Davis officials on the various obstacles to women reporting this type of violent crime.

“This is really needed,” MacAhonic underlined.

Using trauma-informed interview techniques will be key to creating a trauma-informed space and fostering trust. The room is set up to be culturally welcoming as well.

“Having a safe trauma informed space for women to report in our community is vital for their wellbeing,” said Kathleen Mosa, executive director of Wilma House.

When someone calls the RCMP and asks for this service, or if one of the project partners does, those responding will have training needed for a timely response, with sensitivity, access to resources, and follow-up ability.

MacAhonic said the new space will wholly redefine how they help people who are ready to file RCMP reports on these types of violent and damaging crimes.

By calling the RCMP and asking for this “Willow Room” service, or by calling direct to 604-792-3116, it will be available as of next Tuesday.

Law enforcement plays a crucial role in supporting survivors, and they are uniquely positioned to do so.

“The responding officer’s awareness of the needs of those reporting, common responses to victimization, and the particular needs of distinct victim populations can help the officer avoid a re-victimization.”

When survivors are ready to tell their stories it can go either way.

“Disclosing a traumatic event has the potential to be an affirming or re-traumatizing experience,” MacAhonic added.

“Those who work extensively with women want to ensure that women are being heard, supported and not further victimized, and that is why this important project has been put in place.”

READ MORE: Safe houses are both pet friendly

READ MORE: Crisis calls are on the rise during the pandemic

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

City of ChilliwackRCMPwomen shelters

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ripy Jubbal of Abbotsford has received a 30-month jail sentence for the fraudulent use of credit cards and credit card data. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford woman sentenced for $80K in fraudulent credit card purchases

Ripy Jubbal and spouse used identities of 19 different victims, court hears

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. (File photo)
UPDATE: 2 cougars killed following attack in Harrison Mills

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

....
Abbotsford graphic designer pitches Flyers rebrand for AHL team

Alex Svarez suggests new affiliate team turns back the clock and brings back Flyers moniker

Mike Haire, a former vice-principal at W. A. Fraser Middle School in Abbotsford, began court proceedings on Monday, May 3 in New Westminster for two child pornography offences.
Trial paused for former Abbotsford vice-principal charged with child porn

Judge reserves decision on admissibility of evidence against Mike Haire

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen is now under investigation from the Vancouver Police Department following sexual misconduct allegations. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Vancouver police investigating sexual misconduct claims against Canucks’ Jake Virtanen

Abbotsford native remains on leave with the Vancouver Canucks following recent allegations

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Meghan Gilley, a 35-year-old emergency room doctor and new mom was vaccinated from COVID-19 in January, while she was pregnant. She’s encouraging others to do the same. (Submitted)
‘The best decision’: B.C. mom encourages other pregnant women to get COVID-19 shot

Meghan Gilley, 35, delivered a healthy baby after being vaccinated against the virus while pregnant

Most Read