Examining Accessibility of Services for Sexualized Violence: Understanding the Survivor's Experience
Sexualized violence has a profound impact on an individual’s health and wellbeing, yet only a fraction of survivors seek support from formal services. Studies exploring survivor decision processes on accessing services and supports for sexualized violence are lacking. The purpose of this study was to understand the lived experience of survivors who attempted to access, accessed, or did not access services/supports for sexualized violence, within Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 10 individuals, informed by feminist phenomenology. The following seven themes were discovered: Recognizing Sexualized Violence, Re-traumatizing Services, Supportive Service Experience, Ripple Effect, Gaps in Service and Education, Foundational Knowledge, and Trauma-informed Care. Participants shared their experiences and provided suggestions to improve care for survivors. This research highlighted the voices of survivors and recommendations have been made to use trauma-informed care and increase education to strengthen services and supports for survivors across multiple sectors.