The Christmas season is here, and in a perfect world, peace, joy and goodwill would reign forever.
But, it’s not a perfect world, and even as bells ring out holiday greetings, domestic disputes escalate, often fueled by alcohol and the added financial and social pressures the holidays bring.
Domestic abuse cannot be ignored and it will not go away.
But, even as abusers and victims continue to play out the familiar scenario and the cops are finally called, and it is all over until the next time, there are other key players who strive to make a difference, not only at Christmas but all year-round.
These are the Victim Services advocates. Often showing up at the scene of a domestic abuse situation along with the RCMP, these well trained volunteers could be a much-needed lifeline for an abused and frightened victim.
Victim Service advocates give willingly of their time and expertise to provide support and encouragement, whether bruises are visible on the outside or hidden on the inside where the pain of abuse can be even greater.
Jordanna Huggins is the Victim Services co-ordinator and Vernita Carlson is a volunteer advocate in the Rimbey area.
Both ladies are knowledgeable, experienced and, above all, compassionate. They are trained in crisis intervention and stress management.
Women who want to get out of an abusive situation are provided with referrals to agencies such as the Women’s Shelter, Women’s Outreach and the Sexual Assault Centre, said Huggins. “And we will transport the woman and her children there (the appropriate place) if they are willing to leave.”
Unfortunately, the ladies agreed most victims do not decide leave.
“The majority minimize what happens,” said Huggins. “And after the police have pressed charges they will go to the prosecutor and try to have the charges dropped.”
Carlson said the victims chose to stay for a number of reasons.
“They will tell themselves it is their fault,” said Carlson. “Sometimes they are concerned about the well being of a pet. A lot of them don’t realize how hurtful it is to their children to stay.”
Regardless of the decision, advocates provide a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. “It helps just to be able to talk to someone. A lot of them don’t have family or friends,” said Carlson.
Both men and women suffer abuse at the hands of a spouse or partner, she added.
“It can be men, they don’t talk about it, but there are more out there than people are aware of. The numbers are not quite high as women but close.”
Carlson said men who are being abused physically don’t fight back.
“They believe you don’t hit a woman. It’s a tough issue,” she said. “It’s pretty easy to take advantage of a person who has no sense of self-worth, be it a man or a woman.”
Domestic abuse can be emotional, mental and financial as well as physical.
To access Rimbey Victim’s Service call 403-843-8494 or 403-848-2567 (messages are checked regularly) or email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org