A growing number of women looking for domestic violence shelter and services in Calgary – and across Alberta – has led several bedroom communities to build their own shelters.
The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS), located in Edmonton, said more than 10,000 women and children enter a domestic violence shelter every year in the province.
More than 15,000 women and children will be turned away.
It’s a number the ACWS says is increasing every year as our population grows.
“With domestic violence, if a woman cannot access services immediately, and she’s at high risk, there’s a continued high risk of her being seriously assaulted or killed,” said Ian
Those numbers may overlap, ACWS said. If a woman calls and needs
The increase has led to a capacity issue for women’s shelters in Alberta, particularly in big centers like Calgary.
YWCA not seeing slowdown in women seeking help
Allison McLauchlan, manager of shelter and outreach services with the YWCA, said that in the last
When talking about Calgary’s bedroom communities, however, the YW generally doesn’t see many women from outside of Calgary stay at their shelter.
“Women from rural communities don’t necessarily want to come into the city. When we ask women to uproot their entire life and come into Calgary or farther afield, you know, that’s a lot to ask,” she said.
McLauchlan said some women may stay in unsafe situations as a result.
“So I honestly believe that if Airdrie or Cochrane build a shelter it would be filled.”
Bedroom communities working on shelters
Currently, Airdrie, Cochrane
Margaret Van Tighem is the co-founder of Big Hill Haven located in Cochrane. Right now, it’s an online safety and resource
Van Tighem said Cochrane has a high incidence of domestic violence in its boundaries. Without a shelter, women are sent to Calgary or other shelters in Morley or Banff.
“And that’s still the case because we don’t have an actual shelter yet,” she said.
Van Tighem is currently working on securing funding for the $3 million hub model. There, staff and volunteers would have a place to come together for outreach and
Working on building a smaller facility means women have more of an opportunity in Cochrane can stay in their community. Something Van Tighem
“In a town the size of
“And anytime you’re dealing with somebody that has dealt with domestic violence, you’re dealing with people who are traumatized. So it’s better for them to stay in their communities. It’s just better for their healing and better for their processes.”
Options available for women turned away
Women turned away from shelters
Shelters will also work with women on immediate safety planning and counselling support.
But he adds those building shelters themselves in Calgary’s growing bedroom communities is key to helping women often turned away from services in the city. If more shelters were built in smaller communities, they would most likely be filled.
More shelters needed: ACWS
“If you were to build a 30-bed shelter in a community the size of Airdrie area, there’s a pretty good chance that they’re going to be running just under full capacity year-round. There’s just that much domestic violence out there,” he said.
“And I think these communities are recognizing that in communities where shelters currently do exist in the cities are running
Alberta Works – Support for Albertans Fleeing Abuse
24-hour line: 1-866-644-5135
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
24-hour family violence help line: 403-234-SAFE (7233) or toll-free 1-866-606-7233
The Distress Center
24-hour crisis line: 403-266-HELP (4357)