November is Family Violence Prevention Month and the community of Rimbey is working harder than ever to increase public awareness of the issue, as well have supports and resources in place for those in need.
Sandy Bell, community outreach co-ordinator, believes with groups such as the Community Wellness Association active,topics such as family violence and accompanying resources are even more at the forefront.
“We want a healthy and supportive community and a great place to live for everyone,” said Bell.
“Rimbey is not a place where violence is tolerated,” she added.
In further efforts to collaborate and bring the issue of family violence to light, Rimbey’s mayor, Rick Pankiw, along with theCommunity Wellness Association announced in a proclamation in the Rimbey Review that November 2015 was declaredFamily Violence Prevention Month in the community.
“So, what can we do as a community about violence prevention? We can become known as a caring community that makes it known that violence is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. We can learn about and support our community resources that help victims of violence and promote healthy relationships and families, such as Victim Services, Family andCommunity Support Services, Neighbourhood Place, health services and others,” said Bell in an email to the Rimbey Review.
According to the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter: family violence accounted for 26% of all police reported violent crime in 2011; family violence is costing Canadians $7.4 billion every year, taking into account costs ranging from policing and health-care to funerals and lost wages; a child who witnesses spousal violence is experiencing a form of child abuse. Research shows that “witnessing family violence is as harmful as experiencing it directly.”
Bell says last year 33 per cent of cases accepted by Rimbey and District Victim Services dealt with family violence.
“It’s our belief, and we don’t have nay numbers to prove it, but we see more referrals when times are tough,” said Bell.
“There’s more stressors in peoples’ life,” she added.
Bell says what is great about the Community Wellness Association is it can help apply proactive solutions to the issue; there are services to help both adults and children deal with the stress in their lives before the situation escalates to family violence.
Victims of family violence often try to isolate themselves from other people. “They don’t want people to know it happens in their family,” said Bell.
She explains family violence can be helped through conversation and connectedness. “Pay attention, don’t look the other way, be open and accessible, don’t blame the victim. Speak out against violence. Do you suspect a family member or friend is being abused? Talk to her or him about it. Do you suspect a family member or friend is being abusive? Talk to him or her about it.”
Rimbey and District Victim Services can be contacted at: 403-843-8494, or after hours at 587-729-0225.
Family Violence Prevention Month began in 1986. According to the Alberta Government Human Resources website it began as a local initiative in Hinton. “This grassroots effort inspired the Alberta Legislature to support family violence prevention as an ongoing provincial initiative, resulting in the creation of Family Violence Prevention Month. Today, hundreds ofAlberta communities and thousands of individuals are actively involved in preventing family violence by providing public education and services,” the site states.