Addressing family violence is more important than ever
Anxiety and stress amidst a global pandemic lead to increased violence
Each year the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC) recognizes Family Violence Prevention Month in November, along with other communities across Alberta. This Provincial awareness month intends to shed light on this complex issue, open difficult conversations and encourage individuals in our community to learn more about ways that they can help end it.
As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching impacts, now more than ever we need to bring awareness to the signs of family violence and learn more about the numerous organizations available to help those facing abuse in their homes.
During the first several months of the pandemic, we saw a decline in the number of calls to police, helplines and service providers for support. This is a scary statistic because we know family violence didn’t stop, rather the lockdown made more challenging for people to leave abusive situations or access these vital supports.
As the summer began, and things started to open up in the city, we slowly started to see the number of calls for support increase. We want to continue to remind people that all services are operating and are available for support during this time.
The Family Violence Info Line (FVIL) received a 23% increase in calls from April to August in 2020 in comparison to the same months in the previous year. The chat service experienced an 83% increase in use this year over the same period in 2019.
In the first three quarters of 2020 (Jan to Sept), the Calgary Police Service responded to 15,038 domestic incidents, which is about nine per cent above average. However, the vast majority, a total of 12,087 or 80 per cent of these calls, are verbal altercations that escalated to the point that police were called or situations where one party asked police to be present during an interaction with an intimate partner or family member.
Reports of domestic violence (I.e. calls that involved some form of actual or threatened physical violence) during the same period are around 10 per cent lower than average at 2,951. Many things could be contributing to this decrease, including decreased opportunity to report as people are at home with their partners more because of COVID-19.
Domestic violence is a complex problem that can only be addressed when everyone in the community works together to end it. Abuse thrives in silence and shadow. We encourage Calgarians to take time this month to:
- Learn how you can reach out and support someone you know, or suspect might be in an abusive or violent relationship.
- Be an open and accepting friend if someone discloses their experience with abuse – saying “I believe you” goes a long way.
- Talk to your children about what kinds of behaviours are healthy in a relationship and which ones are not.
- Donate to organizations that work to support families affected by domestic and sexual violence.
- Volunteer with organizations that work to support families affected by domestic and sexual violence.
Calgarians experiencing abuse or violence in an intimate or family relationship are always encouraged to reach out for help. There are countless agencies ready to offer support that can be contacted simply by calling 211. The Family Violence Helpline is available 24/7 at 403-234-SAFE (7233) and has prepared during the pandemic for an increase in the number of calls.
We also encourage you to call the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818 which is available 24/7 and in more than 170 languages from anywhere in Alberta. If phone calls are not available to you, we encourage you to use the Alberta Safety Chat Line, by clicking HERE. This chat line is available between the hours of 8AM and 8PM MST in English.
Victims of domestic violence can also contact the Calgary Police Service anytime by calling the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234, or 9-1-1 if you are in immediate danger.