Violation. Violence. Crime. Abuse. Punishable – no matter how you describe it, family violence has no excuse, no reason to exist, and should never be tolerated.
November is Family Violence Prevention month, and Waypoints Community Services Association (Waypoints) has local resources to assist.
Operating since 1982, Waypoints is a social profit and charity, which works to end family violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, and homelessness in our region. Waypoints owns and operates:
- Unity House, a 45-bed Emergency Women’s Shelter
- Wood Buffalo Second Stage Shelter, which offers transitional housing for up to two years for women escaping family violence
- The regions’ Sexual Assault Healing Centre
- The Compass, a 78-unit apartment building
- The region’s Child and Youth Advocacy Centre (CYAC), the Care Centre for Children and Youth
- Outreach Landing which provides counselling services and family violence outreach
- Opportunities for Change Centre, which runs the regions’ Provincial Family Violence Treatment Program
“Family Violence Prevention Month began as an education campaign created by a concerned group of citizens in the town of Hinton in 1986. Their work inspired the government of Alberta to support family violence prevention as an ongoing provincial initiative, resulting in the creation of Family Violence Prevention Month,” notes Michele Taylor, Executive Director, Waypoints, who has been leading the organization for almost 10 years.
While no local family/domestic violence stats are available, one in three Albertans will experience domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. In addition, according to Alberta Government, Alberta has the third highest rate of self-reported spousal violence among Canadian provinces. Taylor elaborates on the challenges for keeping stats.
“There is no stat for Wood Buffalo – anywhere in the world for that matter, as it is often kept secret by the families that are experiencing it. Police keep statistics of the number of times they are called to a domestic violence situation, those that run women’s shelters keep track of how many people access their services, including crisis line calls for example. No one to my knowledge has been able to design data collection to accurately reflect the amount of family violence in a region. It is a very complex issue, with a lot of variables to be considered in data collection.”
And, of course, the pandemic has aggravated the family/domestic violence situation due to “isolation, inability to leave an unsafe home if one’s partner is working from home, increased stress caused by economic hardship.”
“COVID-19 brought more than one crisis to Alberta. Many people have experienced detrimental mental health impacts as they deal with stress from children and parents working from home, fear and anxiety from job loss or changes, and loneliness from isolation,” adds Taylor.
During the month, Waypoints is working on a public education campaign – red flags, how to identify an unhealthy relationship, engaging bystanders and community in helping people access resources, promoting how to directly access resources, social media awareness campaigns, counselling, (providing resources and support before family violence erupts in a home).
“Family violence can lead to lifelong physical and mental health challenges. We all need to learn how to prevent unhealthy relationships, or heal them, to ensure they don’t lead to family violence. Do you know the warning signs? Do you know how to help a family member, friend, or co-worker? We all have a basic human right to be safe from violence in our homes.”
Find more information and links to local services, visit: woodbuffalofvcc.ca.
Unity House Crisis Line: 780-743-1190.
Every Albertan can make a difference.
- Check in with your loved ones and connections. If someone you know is acting differently, or is fearful, or has been isolating themselves from friends and family, asking if they are OK and providing them with information to access help can lead to more positive outcomes
- It’s likely you already know someone who has experienced or has been impacted by domestic and sexual violence – 80% of people experiencing abuse will tell a friend, family member, doctor, or other informal supporter first. IMPACT organizations can help you recognize abuse and talk about it.
- Volunteer and/or donate to Waypoints to support our shelters
About the author
Kiran is a national award-winning communications specialist, freelance journalist, and social media consultant. She loves telling community stories, and is a strong advocate for inclusion, diversity, women’s rights, and multiculturalism. Got story ideas? Contact her via Twitter: @KiranMK0822.