The issue of domestic violence is something that probably should be discussed more than it is in Alberta, especially as there have been a shocking number of murders in the Capital region over the past two years.
Sherwood Park woman Colleen Sillito was murdered in her driveway last fall by her estranged boyfriend Paul Joseph Jacob, who took his own life immediately after killing Sillito. Still, a number of people in comment sections and blogs claim Alberta doesn’t have a domestic violence problem.
City of Leduc FCSS family support coordinator Amanda Ulrickson said domestic violence is an issue in Alberta society, and it transcends boundaries.
“My experience is that family violence is not discriminating in gender, race or geographic location,” she said from her office by phone Feb. 11. Ulrickson said from her experience domestic violence can affect anyone or any community, and that Leduc is no exception.
She said the number of domestic violence-related attacks and murders in the Capital region are alarming. “It’s really quite scary and with the economy, I’m afraid it’s going to get worse.”
The city’s Family and Community Support Services is a place woman can turn to for advice who are in a violent or abusive environment, noted Ulrickson. “We get a lot of calls from victims and survivors inquiring about what programs and services we have that can help them.” She said important information includes moving out of a dangerous situation, safety plans, housing information and financial aids.
She noted that not all abuse includes a physical aspect; it can be emotional, it can be psychological and it can be financial, among others forms. “Just because they’re not being hit doesn’t mean it’s not abuse,” she said.
Ulrickson said FCSS also keeps on top of follow-ups, to keep in touch and ensures people who are in or have left domestic violence situations have access to the resources they need.
The family support coordinator said from her experience with victims and survivors of domestic violence, she’s seen a number of factors that can contribute, including stress on people, and stress can come from a number of directions including financial, isolation, age and socio-economic among others. Substances like alcohol and drugs can also be included.
FCSS offers one-on-one family support for victims of domestic violence, including important things like a safety plan (according to www.thehotline.org, a domestic violence safety plan is “a personalized, practical plan that can help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you are in danger”) and also helping to organize if a victim wants to leave a situation, or even if they choose to stay.
One of the major roles FCSS plays in domestic violence is acting as a pathfinder and giving victims and survivors the referrals to other agencies that they need. “A big part of our job is referral,” said Ulrickson, who noted that all FCSS departments, regardless of which municipality they’re in, offer similar programs and services.
Ulrickson said she and other FCSS staff want those in abusive or violent situations to know that there are people willing to listen and help. “I think it’s important to know there are people out there to help them or guide them in a direction,” she added. City of Leduc FCSS can be contacted at 780-980-7109.