Christian Calzar and Coreen Fahrenschon staff the crisis line at the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter. Calls are way down in April, which is troubling staff at the shelter. (Advocate file photo).

Calls for help are way down — raising concerns at the Red Deer women’s shelter

Director believes many abused women are finding no opportunities to seek help

Calls about domestic violence are down at the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter — but that’s likely not good news.

The centre’s operations director, Corrie McKilligan, said 139 calls were made to the emergency line in April, compared to 257 calls in April 2019.

“It’s quite a significant decrease… and it’s worrisome,” said McKilligan.

She explained stress caused by financial uncertainty and isolation — which are burdening many families during this time of COVID-19 — is known to fuel domestic strife instead of diffuse it.

With so many spouses working from home or unemployed this spring, McKilligan believes more women could be in unsafe situations. But with their abusers around all the time, they could be finding no opportuities to call for help, she added.

“It’s disturbing.”

McKilligan wants central Albertans to know “we are definitely available to help you in any way we can.”

The local shelter is now operating with 10 rooms instead of the usual 14 because of physicial distancing requirements set by the province, and all 10 rooms are full.

But McKilligan said staff are prepared to call other shelters to find room, or discuss other options for getting women out of dangerous homes. They are also willing to provide emotional support and other resources.

“We will assess the risk and connect any way we are able to.”

Jan Reimer, executive director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters, said shelters are working to keep their spaces safe, both for women coming in to flee violence and for their workers.

“We know that historically, in times of crisis, incidents of domestic violence increase… With the public health messaging of ‘stay home,’ we are concerned that many women are afraid or unable to seek the help they need,” said Reimer.

She wants to ensure women know that shelters are doing everything they can to continue to accommodate women facing domestic abuse.

“And you don’t have to go into a shelter to get help from one. Shelter workers can support you to prepare to leave safely or find another safe option.”

The council put out a release on dealing with domestic violence during the pandemic. It’s available here or at https://acws.ca/covid-19-update.

domestic violence

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

OTTAWA — The federal government must do more to help provinces prepare… Continue reading

Man accused in 2019 Grandview homicide going to trial

Quentin Strawberry charged with second-degree murder

Woman reported missing in Red Deer

Red Deer RCMP seek public’s assistance

Scientist admits Sweden could have battled virus better

STOCKHOLM — Sweden’s chief epidemiologist showed contrition Wednesday as criticism mounted over… Continue reading

Solidarity together: Central Albertans protest in Red Deer against racism

There’s no such thing as a little bit of racism. Even one… Continue reading

Michael Dawe: Hobo Jungle was once an oasis for those who couldn’t find work

There is a lot of well-founded concern about the enormous worldwide impact… Continue reading

Former Canadian university defenceman Kodie Curran signs with Anaheim Ducks

CALGARY — Kodie Curran took an unorthodox route to an NHL contract.… Continue reading

Creator fires ‘Law & Order’ spin-off writer for online posts

LOS ANGELES — A TV writer who has worked on “S.W.A.T.” and… Continue reading

Nunavut RCMP order probe after video shows suspect hit by police vehicle door

Nunavut RCMP order probe after video shows suspect hit by police vehicle door

Joint federal-provincial inquiry into N.S. mass shooting a good option: top expert

Joint federal-provincial inquiry into N.S. mass shooting a good option: top expert

As U.S. boils over, calls for Canadian justice ring out in House of Commons

As U.S. boils over, calls for Canadian justice ring out in House of Commons

How proceedings in the House of Commons during pandemic differ from normal

How proceedings in the House of Commons during pandemic differ from normal

Feds continue to add to COVID-19 supply stores to meet future demand

Feds continue to add to COVID-19 supply stores to meet future demand

Most Read