Systemic abuse also referred to as institutional abuse or abuse by institution occurs when rules, regulations, laws, policies, programs and/or practices developed by an institution harm and/or discriminate against an identifiable group or a member of an identifiable group.
Institutions are organizations or corporations established for a particular purpose such as education, social/cultural programs, or governance and include schools, churches, and the health care system.
In some cases, an organization’s rules, regulations, laws, policies, programs and/or practices cause harm to groups and/or individuals. The type of harm can be psychological, physical, sexual, as well as financial. For institutional abuse to occur there is usually a power imbalance between the organization and the targeted group or person. It is often due to the organizational structure of the institution that it and the offenders within it are shielded from accountability. Historically this practise has led to the systemic abuse that we continue to confront today.
For fear of disbelief and/or repercussions victims of systemic abuse may be reluctant to disclose the abuse to the institution where they were harmed, or report it to the authorities. Slater Vecchio’s goal is to assist and find justice for those who cannot go up against the establishment on their own.
There are many resources available for individuals who have experienced systemic abuse. Sometimes by assisting survivors to recognize past experiences as abuse, addressing the trauma of the abuse, and guiding survivors toward a future of dignity and well-being.
However, communicating an experience of abuse to others can be triggering and re-traumatizing. When accessing any abuse-related resources all survivors need to be encouraged to proceed at their own pace. Because trauma is complex and individual, the goal of information and support is to minimize any additional negative impact.
If you are in need of services, the following list includes some examples of the types of organizations and resources that might be applicable to your situation.
Understandably, some survivors are apprehensive about participating in a lawsuit due to the possibility of public exposure. This is a valid concern and unfortunately may be a barrier to accessing the justice system. If this is the case for you, please know that there are options to safeguard your identity. We want to be the ally for those who need to right a wrong.
Legal services can help survivors of systemic abuse hold the offending institution accountable and claim financial compensation for the harm suffered. Often, filing a lawsuit will lead to more survivors coming forward to corroborate abusive systemic practices. Legal services should also provide guidance and information about the legal process. If you are looking to pursue legal recourse, then a knowledgeable and dedicated legal team is vital.
We acknowledge it can be difficult to recount experiences of any type of abuse. All your feelings are valid, and we as a legal team are capable of having conversations about sensitive issues in a non-judgmental and compassionate manner.
Or if you’d rather to talk to someone, give us a call:
 Canadian Women’s Foundation – Sexual Assault and Harassment in Canada | The Facts
 Amelia Rising – Learn About Sexual Violence & GBV