Each year the Calgary Police respond to more than 18,000 domestic conflict calls. For reference, that’s two times more than the number of break and enter calls and three times the number of stolen vehicles reported last year. In Alberta, we unfortunately have one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada. We know that no two stories are the same because there is no type of person who may experience abuse. There is no normal response to abuse in a relationship and it can happen to anyone.
For the month of November, the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective’s theme was ‘Pin Your Purple’ in an effort to encourage Calgarians to raise awareness, show their support and break the silence that often surrounds domestic abuse. We too pinned our purple at YW and considered ways in which we can elevate our voices to end domestic abuse.
We contributed to the conversation at our 7th annual YWHISPER Fundraising Gala, which included a perspective from the bench on domestic abuse. Alberta Provincial Court Judge Sean Dunnigan spoke passionately about the need to have a coordinated approach to dealing with domestic abuse cases. He spoke about first-time offenders experience in court often being a sobering experience, but in many cases, the relationship will continue after the judicial process despite the risk to the partner’s safety.
We know that domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate. It exists at all income levels, in all cultures, in all sexual orientations, at all ages and in all areas of our city and our province. As domestic abuse continues to rise in Calgary with 2017 being poised to have 34 per cent more incidents of domestic abuse than the 5-year average, we looked internally to see how we support the women we serve.
We were blown away by our YW Sheriff King Home crisis shelter team’s approach to what could be a triggering month for women and their children residing in the shelter. The team coordinated a beautiful lunch for the women and their children where each woman received a white rose and were served by our wonderful shelter team members. The women sat at elegantly decorated tables with little purple hearts scattered about and enjoyed purple cupcakes with each other and their families.
However, as beautiful as the afternoon was, we must remember that every hour of every day, a woman in Alberta is a victim of some form of violence by a current or an ex-partner or an ex-spouse. It’s more than likely that you know a woman who has experienced some form of violence or abuse in her lifetime.
The picture below is a design put together by the team at our shelter, the white flowers depict the women YW has served in the shelter during 2017, the gold flowers are the children we’ve supported and the flowers on the outskirts are women who have lost their lives to domestic abuse.
It is up to all of us to create communities where domestic abuse and violence against women is not tolerated.
We are all part of the solution.