Recent stats have shown a staggering increase in the amount of domestic conflict calls to the Calgary Police Service (CPS). Current economic pressures continue to add to the growing list of possible family stressors, making it critical to reinforce the importance of healthy relationships with our children and ourselves. Domestic conflict has an enormous impact on children, and it’s important that anyone involved in an abusive relationship - man, woman or child - knows how to access help.
Just last year, the CPS received almost 19,000 domestic conflict calls. Even more concerning is that violent domestic incidents increased by 10 per cent in 2015. Sadly, domestic abuse is more common than you think, but fortunately there are a multitude of agencies within our city that are ready and willing to help.
What can you do?
Get help. If you are involved in an abusive relationship, the first step is to ask for help. Domestic violence can be stopped and further harm can be prevented. It is dangerous to do nothing about the abuse. Start by telling someone you trust, such as a friend or a relative.
To report domestic violence to police, call 403-266-1234 or call 9-1-1 if there is an immediate danger. For confidential counseling and support, call the 24-hour Family Violence Helpline at 403-234-SAFE (7233). For more domestic violence resources, visit calgarypolice.ca.
Create a safety plan. A safety plan is an important step to create ahead of time so that you and your children can get away when potential violence arises. Let someone you trust know about your situation and create a code word that lets them know to call for help if you are unable to. Keep all of your important documents and items in one place so you can grab them quickly if you need to flee a situation. Make sure that your child’s school or daycare is also aware of any court or custody orders.
Don’t turn a blind eye. Unhealthy relationships are not isolated to any one group of people. People of all ages, race, gender, culture, educational background and economic status can be affected. If someone discloses something about domestic violence to you, the most important thing you can do is listen. Offer support, don’t judge and ask how you can be of help. Always call police in an emergency situation.
Ensure your child’s safety. Children are aware of a lot more than we often give them credit for. You know your child best, and you know when to address questions about an unhealthy relationship. Make sure they understand what a healthy relationship looks like and whom to contact if they need to get help. Children should know how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency, and have the number of the Kids Help Phone if needed
Help is available - all you have to do is call.
Roger Chaffin is the Chief of Police for the Calgary Police Service.
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