Domestic violence on the rise

A rash of domestic violence in Rocky Mountain House is a small part of a provincial wide problem, local officials said.

A rash of domestic violence in Rocky Mountain House is a small part of a provincial wide problem, local officials said.

Rocky Mountain House RCMP said they have received 13 calls related to domestic violence in the last 15 days, which is more frequent than normal.

“I think you could say it’s happening all over the province,” said Staff Sgt. Bill Laidlaw.

“That being said, we’ve made it a priority to deal with it and get these matters before the courts.

“It’s one of those things we’ve focused on, we’ve dealt with successfully and now we’re getting more people coming through the system.”

When children are involved in a domestic violence call, the RCMP notify Alberta Child and Family Services. David Brady, the Rocky Mountain House office’s casework supervisor, said they prioritize those calls and if they have grounds for an investigation they start one.

“We do have a number of families that present this problem,” said Brady.

“It’s usually a male batterer and a female victim, sometimes it is adult to child, which is family violence.”

The caseload summary for the area have 13 children part of several different ongoing family violence investigations.

“Family violence, addictions and mental health are 80 per cent of case load,” said Brady. “One or all of the others.”

Brady said they can tie some of the patterns of domestic or family violence to the volatility of the economy.

“When we’re in a bust cycle, there are a lot of poor coping strategies, a lot of pressure and demands,” said Brady.

“People want to live the life they had when they were earning.

“In the relationship it is already occurring, it’s just when it goes public we find out about it. The abuse is already there, it just reaches to the point that there is an awareness of it.”

The Rocky Mountain House Women’s Shelter has seen a steady increase in volume over the past few years. Operated by the Mountain Rose Women’s Shelter Association, executive director Cindy Easton said the small 10-bed emergency has been very busy.

Last year the shelter supported 134 women and children, but due to limited space another 110 were unable to use the services of the shelter. Easton said they still tried to find places to go for those they could not accommodate or help them through their outreach services.

“On top of that our crisis line received 400 calls looking for support regarding domestic violence,” said Easton. “It’s a slow and steady increase.”

She cited the provincial wide data counts that looked at statistics from one day. On Nov. 6, 2013, a total of 926 women and 1,102 children were housed in the province’s shelter.

“We have a very good working relationship with the Rocky RCMP detachment,” said Easton. “Through that and victim services we have a very good working agreement.

“Because we have that very good working relationship we’re aware of domestic violence situations and the impact that has on our community.”

Easton said when you train people to look for and deal with domestic violence incidents then it is reported more and the community is more aware.

Laidlaw said each domestic violence call a significant amount of investigation time, at least eight hours is devoted to just the paper work for the investigation.

“There is such a reporting requirement for domestic violence calls,” said Laidlaw. “It’s a fairly lengthy process.”

“We take it seriously and it is something we want to look into.”

The calls are happening all over the detachment area.

“Typically with domestic violence you get some that are unfounded, some go to trial,” said Laidlaw. “In this instance we’ve had 13 we’ve had to investigate so we’ve been fairly busy with it.”

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