After reading a CBC news article two days ago, and then seeing similar stories on the news, I was a bit upset.
Then I thought about it, then stewed about it, and now, I’m very upset about it.
According to the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, between April 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, women’s shelters received more than 65,000 calls seeking support. That is a horrible number of women, often with children, seeking support from an abusive relationship in our province.
Even worse, in my view, is the fact that more than 28,000 women, seniors and children, were turned away from shelters. More than half of the refusals due to the shelters being full, with others being refused for other reasons, including staff shortages or lack of resources.
To be open and upfront, for over fifteen years I have been an active supporter of Women In Need Growing Stronger (WINGS), a 2nd stage shelter in Edmonton, for women escaping family violence and abusive relationships, with their children. I have also supported Jessie’s House, in Morinville.
These are just two of many women’s shelters across the province, most of which are unable to fully assist all of those who come to them for help.
The fact that so many are contacting shelters to escape abusive or violent relationships, to me is an indication that society in general has to do a better job.
From 2012 to 2018, I was employed as a casual cell block guard at a local RCMP detachment. During this time, as part of my work I was exposed to quite a number of cases of domestic abuse or violence.
Since that time, occurrences of this nature have increased, particularly during the COVID pandemic.
As I write this, it came to my mind that, during a period of time after the Fort McMurray fire the detachment I was at had an increase in “domestic” cases, often involving people fleeing the fire devastation which was several hundred kilometres away.
External occurrences like COVID or the Fort McMurray fire will often make a bad domestic situation much worse.
So, what is the answer? How do we solve this situation? How do we make it better?
Unfortunately, we have no simple answer, or in truth, at this time, even a complicated answer.
I do believe there are things that we can do, however.
Firstly, from a lifestyle aspect, we can pay more attention to those around us, friends, coworkers or neighbours. Quite possibly there will be signs of a person being on one side or the other of a domestic abuse situation. If so, there is often some action that we can consider taking.
On the community side, please provide support to a women’s shelter in your area. Make a financial donation. Donate clothing, household items, or contact them and find out whatever they may need. Also, they often are looking for volunteers to assist them in their activities.
Domestic abuse or violence is not an occurrence which is easily reduced or eliminated.
To improve the situation all must be involved. Individuals, community and government.
One thing to me is that we all must speak out more. Too many people are unaware or unconsciously tune it out.
Shout it out. Make them aware.
Give it some thought. What can you do?