“It happens far too often”, says Rimbey RCMP Const. Luke Halvorson. “And if it happens once, chances are good it will happen again.
“Domestic violence is far more prevalent than we want it to be. It can happen day or night. It’s usually worse at night and often the violence is fueled by alcohol.”
Halvorson said the RCMP get three or four calls a week dealing with domestic issues, ranging from property disputes to child custody issues.
“All of these have the potential to escalate to violence,” he said.
The yelling and screaming, punctuated by the sounds of someone being slapped, kicked or punched, may be loud enough to disturb the neighbors.
That’s when the RCMP is usually called.
“Typically it’s a neighbor or friend who calls. We always go to those calls with two members. Police officers have been killed responding to a domestic.”
When members respond to a domestic call they obtain as much information as possible before they arrive at the call.
“We find out things like how many other people are in the house, if there are weapons and the history of the people involved.”
When the officers arrive, they assess the severity of the call and if possible, talk to each person separately in an attempt to defuse the situation.
Of course this approach only works if the people involved are rational and co-operative and sometimes it’s clear the best course of action is to charge the person involved.
“If the victim has a black eye or bruises and has obviously been physically abused, we can charge the person even if the victim doesn’t want to lay a charge,” said Halvorson.
The abuser, if charged is arrested, taken away in a police car and put in a holding cell for 24 hours. Release is dependent on conditions such as a bail hearing and not being allowed to have contact with the abused person.
Domestic violence often shows itself as a long cycle that rears its ugly head over and over again.
“They go back, break away and then go back over and over again. And when children are involved it’s especially sad,” said Halvorson.
The police officer added in the majority of cases, the person being abused will make a statement against the abuser and then later want the charges dropped.
“It takes a lot of courage to call and then stand by the charge.”
However, police who see obvious signs of abuse or have witnesses can take matters into their own hands.
“If we have enough evidence we go ahead without the co-operation of the abused person,” said Halvorson.
Anyone who is being physically abused needs to remove himself or herself from the situation and get help, said Halvorson.
“They need to take of themselves and their children. That has to be a priority.”
Domestic violence happens when adults are unable to control their anger.
Anger management and drug and alcohol counselling may help individuals learn to deal with their issues.
Halvorson noted children growing up in homes where domestic violence occurs may be abused themselves and may be prone to repeating the cycle. “We are a reflection of our parents, even if we don’t want to be.”
The fact people are being abused and not notifying the authorities is disturbing, said Halvorson. “The really scary ones are the ones we never hear from, but we know they are out there.”
Halvorson encourages anyone who is dealing with domestic violence to reach out and get help.
Call 911 or call the Rimbey RCMP at 403-843-2223.