A new provincial phone line to report abuse will help link people to local programs and supports.
The Alberta Supports abuse line at 1-855-4HELPAB (4435722) is available to people who are physically, emotionally, sexually or financially abused or those who suspect someone else is being abused or neglected.
The abuse line operates 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Patricia Arango, executive director of Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC), said she expects Alberta Supports abuse line will refer people to CASASC which operates a 24-hour phone and text crisis line, and a web chat program for immediate assistance.
Arango said CASASC has connected to people across Alberta via text. An average of 70 texts are received monthly.
“We’ve been doing texting for almost three years now. It’s working very well. What we’re doing is good,” Arango said.
“What people say is it’s easy for them. They are in the bus and they can still text. They sit down in the park, outside school, or on a break, and they can text.”
Arango said she is very proud of the success of the texting program and the 75 volunteers who are trained to respond to people in crisis.
“We are the first one, and only one, doing texting.”
People can call or text toll free — 1-866-956-1099 — and web chat is available at CASASC’s website at www.casasc.ca.
Arango said the phone line is also works well because people can call nights and weekends.
CASASC provides crisis and short-term counselling to victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault and their families.
Alberta Supports abuse line was developed as a co-ordinated reporting system to address situations of abuse or neglect which was one of the recommendations made in Judge Michele Collinson’s report stemming from the Betty Ann Gagnon fatality inquiry.
Gagnon, 48, was neglected by her family and had been confined in a basement, a dog run and a converted school bus with no heat, running water or electricity at a rural home east of Edmonton.
— With files from Canadian Press