Pioneering Care for Sexual Assault Survivors: Women’s History Month

Women’s College Hospital (WCH) opened the first regional Sexual Assault Care Centre (SACC) in Ontario in 1984 as a response to the gap in the current healthcare system. Sexual assault victims’ needs were not being adequately met in hospitals. WCH decided to take action to and make change. With funding from the Ministry of the Attorney General, private donors and a large donation from the WCH Association of Volunteers, SACC officially opened under the guidance of Ann Kurdyak, coordinator of SACC. WCH believed that this program would encourage more victims of sexual assault to come forward for treatment and the value of the SACC was seen immediately. In its first twelve days, the centre treated 11 patients. During its first year in operation, 220 patients were treated. SACC would later act a model for 30 sexual assault care centres throughout Ontario. In 1998, it expanded its mandate to include a domestic violence program — another first in Ontario. 

Left: Photograph of Ann Kurdyak, coordinator of SACC, speaking at the official opening of the Sexual Assault Care Centre. Right: Sheila Macdonald, MN, present clinical manager of the Sexual Asault/Domestic Violence Care Centre.

Today, the SACC has expanded and WCH is now home to The Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre (SA/DVCC), a comprehensive service that assists women, men, and trans people, over the age of 14, who are victims/survivors of sexual assault and domestic/intimate partner violence*. The SA/DVCC is under the esteemed leadership of Sheila Macdonald, MN. Sheila is the clinical manager of the centre and the provincial coordinator of the Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care and Treatment Centres (SATC), which links Ontario’s 33 hospital-based sexual assault and treatment centres.  

SA/DVCC offers in person and follow-up support. A nurse is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“We want people to know that we are here to provide them with support, care and information”  

Sheila Macdonald

To contact the SA/DVCC, visit their webpage here. You will also find an online care package through their website filled with important numbers, self-support resources, and community referrals.  

* For sexual assault pertaining to children or youth under 14, please contact the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) program at 416-813-6275.