November is Family Violence Prevention Month

In case you hadn’t heard, November is Family Violence Prevention Month. The Alberta Roundtable on Family Violence provides the following definition of family violence:

Family violence is the abuse of power within relationships of family, trust or dependency that endangers the survival, security or well-being of another person. It can include many forms of abuse including spouse abuse, senior abuse and neglect, child abuse and neglect, child sexual abuse, parent abuse, and witnessing abuse of others in the family. Family violence may include some or all of the following behaviours: physical abuse, psychological abuse, criminal harassment/stalking, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and spiritual abuse.

Sadly, Alberta has one of the highest rate of spousal violence in all of Canada. Research tells us that, on average, it takes around seven attempts for a person to leave an abusive relationship.  There are many reasons for this, but one of those reasons is certainly the difficulty that a person dealing with family violence may experience in accessing the supports they need to get out of an abusive relationship.   

Thankfully, there are a number of programs that are working to respond to the needs of individuals who have been impacted by family violence.  I’d like to highlight one in particular that United Way is proud to support – The Today Family Violence Help Centre.

The Today Centre grew out of the work of the Community Initiatives Against Family Violence (CIAFV).   CIAFV is a group that brings together government, non-profit and individuals committed to developing a coordinated, community response to family violence and bullying.  The group identified the need for an organization that could bring together a range of existing service providers to better support individuals who are dealing with family violence.

The Today Centre works by pulling together existing services under one roof so that individuals dealing with family violence can easily access the supports that they need. Some of the service partners include the Spousal Violence Intervention Team, the Elder Abuse Intervention Team, outreach workers provided by the Edmonton John Howard Society and members of the Edmonton Police Service Victim's Services Unit. The goal of the Today Centre is to reduce the barriers faced by those affected by family violence so that “navigating the system” does not become an obstacle to getting the help they need.  In addition, locating the services together also allows for a team of professionals to work together to provide the best care possible to those affected by family violence.

At United Way, we believe that all families should live in safe, secure environment, free of violence.  By supporting programs such as the Today Centre, we are helping to ensure that those who need help are able to access the support they need. If Family Violence is an issue in your life, there is help.  Here’s an excellent list of resources of organizations who can offer you support.

Tim Osborne is the Director, Community Building and Investment for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.