In 1990, the province of Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services provided a grant to the Family Services Ottawa (FSO) to examine the community response to sexual assault in the Ottawa area. A survey was conducted in which a recurring theme was found to be the need for a network through which to coordinate services and support the work of individual agencies. As a result, the Sexual Assault Network (SAN) was formed as one of the standing subcommittees of the Regional Coordinating Committee To End Violence Against Women (now called the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, OCTEVAW).
In 2007, OCTEVAW reorganized and SAN became a separate entity. SAN continues to receive a yearly grant from the Ministry of Community and Social Services and under Ministry direction, has since become a program within the Anti-Violence Program at Family Services Ottawa (FSO). The funding received by FSO supports SAN’s work and provides for a part-time staff position to coordinate its activities.
SAN’s mandate is to facilitate and promote collaboration among service providers through: community engagement, knowledge exchange, violence prevention, professional development, and working jointly with partners in the area of sexual violence.
The Sexual Assault Network (SAN) is committed to working towards ending sexual violence from a feminist perspective that understands that sexual assault and harassment is rooted in gender inequity, misogyny, transphobia, ableism, capitalism, homophobia, racism, capitalism and poverty.
SAN recognizes that perpetrators of either sex can abuse people and survivors can be from either sex. However, SAN works from the reality that the majority of abusers are men and that the majority of survivors are women.
The Network defines sexual violence (which includes the threat of sexual violence) as an act that is perpetrated to gain control and domination over another individual without her consent.
SAN actively supports the right of women to have control over all aspects of their lives, and seeks to create a community where sexual violence and the intersecting oppressions in which it is founded no longer exist..
The SAN Council has identified the following goals:
- Provide SAN members and the public with opportunities to discuss issues related to sexual violence;
- Provide SAN members and the public with opportunities for professional development;
- Continue to maintain effective and easily accessible communications tools including, blog, website and bookmarks;
- Strengthen the membership base of SAN;
- Work towards the long-term goal of establishing SAN as a strong public voice and recognized expert on sexual violence.