Third Option for sexual assault survivors available in Prince Edward Island
Islanders experiencing sexual violence can request the Third Option in Prince Edward Island.
PEI’s Third Option service is an extension of the current Enhanced Emergency Sexual Assault Services. Survivors of sexual violence who present at an Island hospital emergency room can agree to have evidence collected and stored anonymously. The addition of the Third Option provides survivors more time to consider making a complaint to police while they receive immediate medical attention and support.
“Implementing Third Option in Prince Edward Island has been a team effort and I’m proud that we did our due diligence with everyone involved to get this right. Collecting, transporting and storing the evidence of these terrible crimes is critical so that we can let survivors focus first on healing before they make the very big decision to report the assault to police. I’m glad we can do that for them now, without fear or reservation that the integrity of the evidence is compromised at any point.”
- Justice and Public Safety Minister Bloyce Thompson
When a person requests and consents to the Third Option service, health care providers will use a trauma-informed, patient-centered approach to safely collect forensic evidence. Law enforcement partners will then transport the anonymous evidence to the RCMP “L” Division, where the kits will be stored anonymously for up to one year.
On behalf of the PEI Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Superintendent Jennifer Ebert noted, “It is incredibly important for survivors of sexual assault to have options that assist them at a very critical time. The Third Option allows for evidence to be collected in a trauma informed manner while the survivor determines what is best for them. As such, Island police agencies welcome the Third Option as a choice to survivors of sexual assault.”
The Departments of Justice and Public Safety and Health and Wellness; Health PEI; the Interministerial Women’s Secretariat; Charlottetown, Kensington and Summerside Police Services; the RCMP; and PEI Rape and Sexual Assault Centre worked closely together for the past 18 months to develop strong person-centered protocols for PEI’s Third Option service.
"I am very pleased to see an important initiative like Third Option move forward with a patient-centered and trauma-informed focus. Islanders will benefit by having this option made available by our highly trained and compassionate Health PEI staff," said Health and Wellness Minister Ernie Hudson. "I want to thank everyone who has been involved in moving this initiative to completion. It has been a collaborative effort between departments, health care system, law enforcement and more to make this happen."
The Province also announced that a new Coordinated Response to Adult Sexual Violence Taskforce will be working with community organizations on a long-term strategy to address sexual violence in Prince Edward Island. The provincial strategy will review existing programs and services and make recommendations on what further improvements and programs, like the Third Option, can be offered as supports for those facing sexual violence crimes.
“Sexual assault is an incredibly traumatic crime with lingering impacts to survivors and their loved ones. I’m grateful for the work that government is doing to support survivors to ensure they can focus on healing and are not re-traumatized,” said Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Natalie Jameson. “I look forward to the ideas the taskforce and community will bring forward so we can continue helping survivors of sexual violence in our province. We need all voices working together. ”
Department of Justice and Public Safety