To all who come here… Believe.
Today is my birthday…this appointment is my gift to myself.
The more I face my fears the more free I become. I know one day I will be through this.
Gradually you feel whole again. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.
I have found an inner strength I never know I had. I can survive this – you can too.
It is never your fault. Don’t let someone else define your life.
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
CASASC has been providing a safe haven for those who have experienced sexual abuse and/or sexual assault, whether the incident occurred recently or decades ago. A small group of concerned citizens recognized that there was an urgent need in the Central Alberta region for services to children, adults and families who have been traumatized by sexual assault. They put their heads together, formed a steering committee and applied for Secretary of State Funds to start a Sexual Assault Centre in Red Deer. The original Sexual Assault Centre came to being in 1983 with a $35,000 government grant, a card table, a couple of chairs and a phone.
The $35,000 was used to develop an intensive education and training program for volunteers to operate a Sexual Assault Crisis Line. On May 6, 1985, the Crisis Line started in conjunction with the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter. The lines, staffed by a pool of 15 volunteers, ran from 6:00 p.m. to midnight, 7 days a week, with the Shelter staff handling calls throughout the rest of the day. By September of 1985, two VIP Projects were procured which provided funds of $50.00 a week for expenses and positions of Crisis Line Coordinator and Education Coordinator. In 1986 Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) began funding the Public Education Program and in January 1987, the United Way of Red Deer began funding the Sexual Assault Crisis Line project.
The first Executive Director, Dianne Howarth, was officially hired in May of 1989. Under her leadership the services offered began to expand into the community. By 1992, on a request from the RCMP, the Sexual Assault Centre began offering crisis intervention to victims of sexual assault and their families. This service included providing accompaniment of victims making reports to the police and accompaniment 24 hours a day to hospitals or clinics. Funding for this position came from Alberta Justice.
In 1995, a committee made up of several community agencies, requested that the Sexual Assault Crisis Line become a 24 Hour Generic Help/Distress Line. The David Thompson Health Region – Mental Health Services and the United Way of Central Alberta help fund this expanded line. In 2001, Red Deer and District Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) provided a demonstration grant so that the Sexual Assault Centre could offer Psycho-Educational Groups for victims of sexual assault and their families. These groups have continued, on an ongoing basis, with funding including FCSS and the Rotary Club (Sunrise Group) of Red Deer.
In June of 2003 the Board of Directors made the decision to change the name of the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre to the Crisis Centre. School Wellness Workers, counsellors and clients asked for the change. The purpose of the change was to encourage young persons to access our services without feeling the negative stigma of “sexual assault”. In February 2004 the Crisis Centre was the recipient of $30,000.00 from the local production of the Vagina Monologues. This generous donation fuelled the desire to find a more suitable location for the Crisis Centre and these funds were ear marked for that purpose. In June of 2005 the Crisis Centre moved into the current premises donated by an anonymous donor. The Rotary Club of Red Deer Sunrise provided a $50,000 donation to furnish the new space (Our Boardroom has been named after the Rotary Club of Red Deer) while a donation of $125,000 from Alberta Lottery (Community Facility Enhancement Program Grant) provided dollars to construct the interior.
In October of 2005, the Provincial Government (Children’s Services) began funding Sexual Assault Centres across Alberta. In 2006 the Crisis Centre hired a full time educator and, with the help of this funding, professional counseling services were able to expand. By 2007 the staff also included 1.5 FTE counselors and a part time children’s therapist. Effective April 15, 2008, the Crisis Centre re-focused its 24 hour help line service on sexual assault, discontinuing the generic crisis line. Anyone experiencing an issue that has a sexual connotation was encouraged to call. This includes victims of recent and historic sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking and criminal harassment, and child sex abuse. The United Way of Central Alberta has continued to provide ongoing funding for this valuable service as well as for other essential operational expenses. In 2008 founding Executive Director Dianne Howarth retired, leaving behind a solid legacy committed to the provision of services and supports to Central Albertans dealing with the aftermath of sexual assault/sexual abuse. By 2011 it became evident that the name “Crisis Centre” was no longer a good fit for an organization fully focused on providing education, support and counseling specifically to those affected by sexual assault/sexual abuse. On April 3, 2012 the name was once again officially changed to the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC). This long name clearly denotes who we are, what we do and where we provide the services. At the same time a new logo was introduced. The two ‘individuals’, arms raised to the sky represent, healing and wellness. The colour green symbolizes growth, stability and endurance and the blue, faith, trust, healing and understanding. CASASC exists to empower individuals, families and communities regarding all aspects of Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault. Our doors are open to everyone, women and men, youth and children (aged 4-17) and LGBTQ.