Severity of violence against women increasing in Alberta

Dec 4 2019, 2:02 pm

Intimate partner violence continues to be an epidemic across the country, with the severity of violence against women on the rise, particularly in Alberta.

Today, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) released a report of aggregate statistics collected throughout the year, which shows an increasing severity of violence reported to shelters.

According to the report, the 39 member shelters of the ACWS collect data on every woman they serve, to “highlight the scale of Alberta’s ongoing domestic violence epidemic while showing how shelters transform lives.”

The ACWS says that every six days in Canada, a woman is killed by a current or former intimate partner, and Alberta has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country — with the severity of the violence on the rise.

Shelters assess a woman’s risk of being killed by her intimate partner, and today, nearly two out of three of women who used a Danger Assessment tool when accessing shelters in Alberta, are at a severe or extreme risk of being killed.

This is the highest risk level seen in the past eight years, said a release from the ACWS.

“Domestic violence remains an urgent and serious problem in Alberta. ACWS members sheltered 10,128 women, children and seniors this year, but shelters had to turn away 23,247 women, children and seniors requesting shelter due to a lack of capacity across the province,” said Jan Reimer, executive director of ACWS in a release.

The number of women children and seniors turned away this year was a 38% increase from last year.

According to the report, increased public awareness, complexity of cases, and lack of alternative housing options all contribute to a significant rise in requests for admission to shelter.

Specifically in Calgary and Edmonton, shelters turned away 13,396 women and children.

Further, according to the data, nearly 66% of women served by the shelter had a severe and extreme danger level in 2018/19 based on their Danger Assessment.

However, the statistics also show the “transformative impact of shelters on the lives of families,” given that 96% of women and seniors did not return to their abuser after a stay in a shelter.

The data also shows that the ACWS provided 78,422 services to women, children and seniors, including “emergency and longer-term accommodation, safety planning, trauma-informed childcare, outreach services, counselling, and legal advocacy.”

A map of ACWS member shelters around the province is available online.

A list of all other supports or helplines for family violence or abuse available in Alberta is available on the province’s website.