Sometimes, Domestic Violence is obvious. You can see or hear a couple arguing. Words and physical actions are getting out of control and someone is being hurt either mentally or physically. You intervene, you call 911, or sometimes just ignore it, blaming the victim or hoping the people involved can sort themselves out. You tell yourself it's "not your business".
Other witnesses want to help, but don't know how, or where to go for information. An emergency underway should be called in to 911 for immediate help. If no one is in immediate danger, and you suspect someone ie: a neighbour, relative, or friend is experiencing domestic violence, calling 211 on your phone will connect you to agencies and services that can help you assist the victim.
Domestic Violence is not always visible. It can be verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, spiritual, economic and the violation of rights (Alberta Council of Women's Shelters). Anyone can be affected, and often victims aren't able to find a way to leave the situation they are in.
Here are three examples of how 211 has worked in Red Deer to help people escape domestic violence. Remember, if someone is in immediate danger, you must call 911.
Noticed Signs of Trouble
A man called 211, because he had noticed some changes in his sister since she became married. He also discovered that her new husband is abusive. The Information and Referral (I&R) Specialist assessed the safety of the caller’s sister and found that she was experiencing emotional abuse, stalking, controlling behavior and isolation. The caller wanted support for his sister and information on how to help. The I&R specialist provided the relevant support crisis lines and discussed short and long-term safety planning for the callers sister. Upon follow up it was learned that the caller received the help he needed, he felt better connected to the community after making the call to 211, and will use the service in the future.
Help for a Client
A worker contacted 211 for a client who was fleeing a domestic violence situation. The worker shared that her client was currently safe but needed emergency accommodation in Red Deer. The I&R Specialist provided the caller with information for the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter prior to being directly patched to the Alberta Supports Contact Centre. A call back was invited if further support was needed.
Financially Trapped in Cycle of Abuse
A woman called 211 worried about her living situation. She described living with her abusive boyfriend and wanted to get out of the situation. She was from another province and moved to Red Deer to be with her boyfriend, but was now regretting that decision. She wanted to escape the abuse but needed support and she didn’t know where to turn. She had no money due to financial abuse and was very financially dependent. The I&R Specialist referred the caller to Alberta Works Emergency Needs Allowance and The Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter. The caller thanked the I&R Specialist for their patience, and understanding.
Farren Mather, United Way Central Alberta
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