The CALACS Châteauguay adheres to the declaration of principles of the Regroupement québécois des CALACS (Quebec Coalition of Sexual Assault Centers). In this sense, it insists that sexual violence constitutes a means of control to dictate the lives of women and keep them in a position of fear and submission before patriarchal power. Sexual assaults are acts of domination, humiliation, violence, and abuse of power, mainly committed by men against women, adolescent girls, and children with the aim of keeping them in unequal power relations. The CALACS denounces sexual violence in all its forms.
Sexual violence is a social problem and not an individual one. It is in no way the responsibility of the women, adolescents and children that are subjected to it. The lack of objective and complete information, as well as the incomprehension of the issue, allows myths and prejudices not only to persist, but also to multiply. Consequently, the means to put an end to it must come from society and its various political, social, public, economic, and legal bodies.
In the light of these findings, the choice to intervene/act/work from a feminist perspective was made. The preferred actions, focusing on social change, aim to raise awareness of sexist attitudes, prejudices, and values as well as the negative effects of the stereotypical and even victimizing socialization of women.
The intervention with sexually assaulted women is imbued, for reasons of consistency, with a feminist perspective. Feminist intervention, an approach advocated at the CALACS, applies to both individual and group counselling support. “The goals pursued are essentially to help sexually assaulted women identify their needs, achieve their personal and social goals, find concrete ways to relieve their suffering, overcome the consequences of their assault, feel better about themselves, others and in society and finally, to regain power over their lives (Basis of Unity) RQCALACS, Vandal, 1997a: 31).
The CALACS also plays a socio-legal support role that can, depending on the needs of the woman, provide relevant information on the rights and recourses available. The CALACS can also offer support to women who decide to take legal action.
Because the CALACS is challenged by patriarchal and hierarchical power, it has chosen a mode of operation without hierarchy, moving away from the traditional management model. Collective functioning aims for decision-making by consensus, an equitable sharing of tasks, responsibilities, information, and power between the workers themselves and between the workers and the members of the Collective. The CALACS also recognizes that the process is as important as the outcome.
In order to eliminate sexual violence, CALACS firmly believes that prevention and education activities must be offered to the population as well as struggles must be conducted in order to change mentalities, this is in addition to services to help women who have been sexually assaulted.