Violence stats alarming

Almost 600 people use the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter every year, driven there by domestic violence.

Almost 600 people use the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter every year, driven there by domestic violence.

The numbers are as disturbing as they are astonishing — and they are worse in Alberta than all but one other province.

A Statistics Canada report released last year said that 1.2 million people reported being the victims of spousal abuse in the five years ending in 2009. That’s 6.2 per cent of all Canadians who were in long-term relationships, or had an ex-partner from a relationship.

The same StatsCan report said that spousal violence (involving men abusing women and women abusing men) was worst in Alberta and Saskatchewan, where eight per cent reported violence.

At the other end of the spectrum, spousal violence occurred in four per cent of relationships in Newfoundland and Labrador.

And the news gets worse.

This week, the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters released the results of a survey that bring the statistics — and the attitudes behind those statistics — even closer to home.

The survey by Leger Marketing of 1,000 Alberta men was conducted last month and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 per cent. In other words, these figures are both current and accurate.

The survey asked gender equity questions to get a better picture of men’s attitudes toward women and their roles. It included questions about education, leadership, workplace issues and household hierarchy.

The scale established gave half of Alberta men a medium score when it comes to equity. Thirty-four per cent received a low score. Only 18 per cent scored well when it came to equity.

Among the areas of concern pinpointed in the survey:

l 25 per cent of those surveyed said domestic violence should not be a criminal offence in some situations.

l 16 per cent said domestic violence is a private matter to be handled within the family.

l eight per cent said that a parent should remain in a violent relationship, to keep the family together.

l five per cent said forcing a partner to have sex was not an unhealthy behaviour.

l 40 per cent of respondents said a woman puts herself at risk of rape by wearing provocative clothing.

l 14 per cent said women often say no in sexual situations when they mean yes.

Clearly, gender equality remains a significant issue in Alberta. At a fundraiser during which the survey results were released, Alberta Premier Alison Redford said the results “made me sick to my stomach.”

She should not be alone in her revulsion.

There are two key components in the battle to minimize domestic violence.

The first, and overwhelming, issue is education. We can’t establish gender equality without changing attitudes, and we need to start with children. They need positive role models in the home and the community. And they need to understand that violence is never a tool in resolving conflict.

The second is society’s ability to protect the victims of violence.

Earlier this year, a collaboration between the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter and Red Deer RCMP was the focus of a session at the World Conference of Women’s Shelters.

The collaboration came after the murder-suicide by Josif Fekete of his wife Blagica and three-year-old son Alex in Red Deer in 2003.

A unique domestic crime unit was formed that includes police and a social worker from the shelter.

Officials say that no victim of violence who is in the program has subsequently been killed. And that’s good news.

But as long as 600 people a year are forced to seek shelter, in Red Deer alone, and as long as eight per cent of Albertans report being victims of domestic abuse, we still have a disturbingly long way to go.

John Stewart is the Advocate’s managing editor.

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

Just Posted

The Hub on Ross has announced it has permanently closed. (Photo courtesy The Hub on Ross Facebook page)
The Hub on Ross in Red Deer to permanently close

The Hub on Ross in Red Deer permanently closed on Wednesday. “The… Continue reading

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

The Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House reopened earlier this month, after closing in March due to the pandemic. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House reopens

The Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House was closed for months due… Continue reading

Guy Pelletier, vice-president of the Red Deer region for Melcor Developments. (Contributed photo).
Melcor has to redesign new neighbourhood after Molly Banister decision

City council disagreed with administration’s recommendation to scrap road plans

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Sergio Santos, right, of the Philadelphia Union, loses the race to the ball against goalie Quentin Westberg of Toronto FC during the first half of an MLS match Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Chester, Pa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
Frustrated coach Greg Vanney defends banged-up Toronto FC after second straight loss

Frustrated coach Greg Vanney defends banged-up Toronto FC after second straight loss

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Robert and third baseman Justin Turner pose for a group picture after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Sporting venues and games certainly have super-spreader potential but that risk can be minimized with buy-in from all involved, experts said Wednesday. The subject moved into the spotlight Wednesday after L.A. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19 at the World Series. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eric Gay
Sports’ buy-in needed to prevent super-spreader potential: experts

Sports’ buy-in needed to prevent super-spreader potential: experts

In this image released by Fox, from left, Doug E. Doug, Malik Yoba, Rawle D. Lewis, John Candy and Leon are shown in a scene from the film "Cool Runnings." THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, Fox
Not cool: Jamaican bobsledder wants thief to return stolen shell to Calgary bar

An original member of the Jamaican bobsled team featured in the 1993… Continue reading

Speedskater Ivanie Blondin trains at the Olympic Oval in Calgary on October 17, 2016. Canada's long-track speedskating team is chasing ice to Fort St. John, B.C. The country's top speedskaters have been without ice in Calgary's Olympic Oval since early September because of a mechanical failure there. World champions Ivanie Blondin, Graeme Fish and Ted-Jan Bloemen are among 50 people including coaches and support staff travelling to northern B.C. for a 15-day training camp starting Nov. 1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian long-track speedskating team finds temporary home in B.C.

Canadian long-track speedskating team finds temporary home in B.C.

The "Great One," Wayne Gretzky, left, holds up a banner bearing his number with some help from his friend Joey Moss during a jersey retirement ceremony at Skyreach Centre in Edmonton on Firday, October 1, 1999. Former Oilers captain Kelly Buchberger remembers how a familiar friend would come "barrelling" into the visitors' dressing room when he returned to Edmonton. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Wayne Gretzky reflects on the life, legacy of Joey Moss: ‘He gave parents hope’

Wayne Gretzky reflects on the life, legacy of Joey Moss: ‘He gave parents hope’

Players' sticks are shown during a World Championships Group A hockey game between Russia and Denmark, in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, May 12, 2016. A $30-million settlement of three class actions over the failure to pay junior hockey players the minimum wage has been thrown into jeopardy after three judges refused to sign off on the agreement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ivan Sekretarev
Junior hockey employment lawsuit on thin ice; judges refuse to OK $30-million deal

Junior hockey employment lawsuit on thin ice; judges refuse to OK $30-million deal

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Labour union leaders are urging Albertans to sign up to protest Premier Jason Kenney’s government through rallies and demonstrations and, if necessary, provincewide general strikes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta union leaders launch protest website against Kenney government

Alberta union leaders launch protest website against Kenney government

Most Read