The cost of crises

Ontario’s rape crisis centres are struggling to respond to the 50,000 calls they receive from assault victims each year. With increased demand for services, people who support and advocate for these centres are concerned that the $14.8 million dollars they receive annually from the provincial government, plus a recent $1 million dollar boost, isn’t enough.

My question is, why are we prioritizing crisis response?

I think it’s safe to assume the majority of people who support rape crisis centres do the natural thing and say “Rape crisis centres need to help survivors cope with their traumatic experiences”. 

But I wonder, where are the people saying, “Let’s be more like rape prevention centres. Let’s prioritize giving youth and adults the tools and knowledge they need to protect their safety, develop healthy relationships and avoid becoming victims of sexual assault”?

Is anybody saying, “Crisis response costs more than crisis prevention. Let’s build a culture that’s intolerant of sexual violence. Let’s do something different, reach more people and avoid all the running around we’re doing”?

For sure, it’s important to help people who are suffering. But if we focus too much of our attention, time and resources on responding to emergencies and crises, there’s nothing left for us to work on the strategies and tactics we need to avoid unnecessary suffering and the demands that come with it.

Because people who established rape crisis centres in the 1970s decided “what we do is prioritize helping victims” and because people who support these centres today prioritize the same, it’s not surprising we’re stuck in the sad reality of seeing thousands more #MeToo victims every year.

Knowing what we do is important, but it’s not nearly as important as understanding our real problems and why our organizations exist in the first place.