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 I am twenty-four years old, from Kitimat, British Columbia, and I have recently became a volunteer for SAFFRON Centre, (the Strathcona Sexual Assault Centre). This is a place where people can go to heal from sexual abuse and feel empowered, while also educating the public on the importance of change of our preconceived notions of sexual violence.

I decided to volunteer with Saffron Centre because not only is it a worthy cause, but as a victim of crime myself, it gives me the chance to give back to the community with the ability to be understanding and empathetic. Without getting too candid, my aunt was murdered when I was six years old, and has had a long lasting effect on my life and mental well-being. So while, it is not sexual abuse, I can understand the feeling of being a victim and having to deal with the emotional hardships that happen after a traumatic incident. By being a volunteer at SAFFRON Centre, I hope to be able to show people compassion and understanding, while helping a cause that is bigger than myself.

SAFFRON Centre will also be able to give me valuable experience that I can take into my life and career as well. As a Police and Investigative Studies student at Grant MacEwan University, I will have to learn how to deal with dramatic, emotional incidents in my upcoming field of work, so I know SAFFRON Centre will be able to provide me with victim services training and on-the-spot experience on handling difficult calls that can be emotional for not only me, but the victim as well. In my program, we discuss real crime cases, while looking at crime-scene photos and difficult images that can be quite graphic. While the Police and Investigative Studies prepares us for most situations, they are not able to provide us with how to talk and empathize with the victims of the crimes that had been committed. With SAFFRON Centre’s help, it will fill in that gap of how to provide service to victims, in a way that is non-judgmental and respectful.

Lastly, SAFFRON Centre provides the public with education on what consent is and what consent means to you. This is a very important topic that needs to be discussed to bring down those social norms and bring change to attitudes that can develop at any age. So, what does consent mean to me? As I’ve learned about and discussed sexual abuse crimes, I believe consent is something that must be given and understood, and can be withdrawn at any time. While someone may consent at first, they have every right to revoke that status at any time. Everyone has the right to consent, and that should be respected at all times.

SAFFRON Centre has a mission to end sexual violence, and by volunteering with this non-profit organization, I hope to do my part in ending sexual violence as well.

Sincerely, Erin