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Caring for survivors of sexual assault

Caring for survivors of sexual assault

When survivors of sexual assault arrive at Penticton Regional Hospital, they are cared for by a dedicated team of specially trained nurses and social workers.

Shelley and Marcy are part of the sexual assault response team in Penticton

When a person is referred to the sexual assault team, they are first met by a social worker who explains their options for treatment and emotional support. A nurse examiner is then available to perform a medical exam if requested by the survivor. Throughout the exam, a social worker provides care and support, and after-care planning.

“Our community needs to know we have a dedicated team to care for and support people who have experienced this type of trauma,” says Sara Evans, the interim director of clinical operations at the hospital.

The team uses a trauma-informed, culturally sensitive practice approach to ensure survivors have the best possible care. They also ensure services are provided in a timely manner while allowing the person to choose the treatment options they are comfortable with.

“We are passionately committed to providing this type of care and ensuring our communities in the South Okanagan have these much-needed services,” says Marcey Kindel, the team’s nursing lead.

All members of the team are well trained in how to support people throughout this process.

“Survivors are often scared to come into the hospital after an assault, but many find it’s an important step in their healing process.”

~ Shelley Fritsen, Team social worker


There is also a social worker with expertise in supporting children who are sexual abuse or assault survivors.

The team works with partners in the community to help educate on the services available and how to access them. This includes talking to school counsellors, setting up education and information sessions for doctors and staff in rural communities, and delivering sexual assault information to all doctor’s offices and schools.

The sexual response assault team has been in place since 2005 and is committed to making a difference to survivors in the community.