compassion for complainants

Sexual assault is becoming increasingly familiar to Canadians. In the past, cases of sexual abuse were sometimes covered up, or just unfairly disbelieved. Now, while more and more complainants are speaking out, studies indicate the majority of sexual assault cases still go unreported. Some groups are more vulnerable than others, including young and otherwise vulnerable women. [1]

I would be horrified if part of the result of your love for me was to discourage people who may be near you or hear you who have things that they need to say about their workplaces or their relationships.
— Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes

One thing is clear and absolute: people who say they have been sexually assaulted are entitled to our compassion and respect. BHSF applauds the Government of Nova Scotia for offering having free Victim Services with a chain of offices across the province, including in Kentville.[1]

Canada’s criminal justice system does not do well in meeting the needs of persons who have been sexually assaulted. There have been some improvements, including bans on the publication of the complainant’s identity, the use of victim impact statements during sentencing and the so-called “rape shield” laws that limit questions about a complainant’s past sexual history.[2] However, there is a lot of room for improvement.

Every complaint of sexual assault needs to be carefully investigated. A prosecution that fails due to weak evidence damages the complainant and discourages other complainants of sexual assault from coming forward.

Every complainant is entitled to be taken seriously and treated with compassion and respect. But every accused person is also entitled to the presumption of innocence, and must be able to defend themselves against accusations of sexual assault in a court of law.  

Finally, every case is different.

Because of our compassion for complainants, BHSF will donate one third of any surplus funds to an LGBT positive charity helping persons who have survived sexual assault.



[1] accessed February 25, 2016


[3] S 256, Criminal Code of Canada