Help for Alberta Women in Abusive Situations

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


In 2013/14, Alberta women’s emergency shelters served 7,604 women and 7,766 children. On one day in 2013 alone, 41 of those shelters helped 926 women and 1,102 children.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many women in Alberta continue to find themselves living in abusive situations. In fact, every hour of every day, a woman in Alberta is a victim of some form of violence by an ex-spouse or ex-partner.

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25), here is some information to help understand abuse against women and how you can help.

What is domestic abuse?

First of all, it’s important to define abuse. Sure, there are disagreements in every relationship. So, what’s the difference between an argument and abuse? The difference is violence. There are several different kinds of abuse that can occur in a relationship. These include:

  • Psychological or mental abuse: name-calling, threatening, dominating
  • Economic domination: controlling spending and work life
  • Physical assault: hitting, punching, kicking, etc.
  • Sexual assault: forcing sexual acts, sexual humiliation, sexual objectification, etc.

Who is at risk for domestic abuse?

Young Canadian women aged 15-24 are most vulnerable to sexual violence and most at risk for spousal homicide

Aboriginal women are 3.5 times more likely to experience spousal violence and 8 times more likely to suffer spousal homicide than non-Aboriginal women

Why does domestic abuse education matter?

Violence against women isn’t just about the health of a woman’s relationship. It can also cause emotional and physical harm including acute and chronic health problems, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, depression, stress and alcohol-related disorders.

What are the signs of domestic abuse

If you are concerned that a woman you know might be in an abusive relationship—whether it’s a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbour—you can help. Watch for these warning signs:

  • She seems to be afraid of her partner
  • She is always overly eager to please her partner
  • She avoids talking on the phone when her partner is present
  • Her partner criticizes and humiliates her in front of others
  • She has stopped seeing her friends and relatives
  • She claims that her partner pressures her to have sex
  • Her partner controls her actions—decides who she can see, how she spends her money, where she goes, etc.
  • She discusses her partner’s short temper, jealousy or possessive nature
  • She has low self-esteem
  • She has physical injuries (bruises, sprains, fractures, etc.) with poor explanations as to how she got them
  • Her children are afraid of her partner
  • She does not want to leave her children in her partner’s care
  • Her partner (or ex-partner) constantly harasses her (phones her, follows her)

How can you help victims of domestic abuse?

If you know a woman who is being abused, direct her to one of Alberta’s Family Violence Emergency Shelters  or encourage her to speak to a Family Violence Coordinator for her region.

Even if you don’t know a woman who is in an abusive situation, there are ways you can help. You can contribute to the elimination of violence against women by supporting organizations like the YWCA, Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, The Calgary Sexual Health Centre (CSHC) or Discovery House. Various centres that offer support for victims of sexual violence throughout Alberta can be found here.

There is never a good reason for abuse. Every woman and child has the right to be safe and free from harm. By being vigilant and refusing to look away, you can help end violence against women and their children.

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