National Family Violence Prevention Month – What is family violence?

November is Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta.

According to the Government of Alberta’s 2016 Prevention of Family Violence and Bullying Survey, 51% of Albertans think that family violence occurs a lot/a fair bit in their communities.

For concerned family and friends, it’s important to understand who experiences family violence, what the impacts are, and how together we can support those in need.

What is family violence?

Certain behaviours are considered family violence when they are used to harm or control members of their family or their intimate partner. Often times, these types of behaviours create direct and indirect impacts on health.

Family violence can come in the form of child abuse, elderly abuse or any type of family violence listed below between family members.

Types of family violence

  • Physical abuse: physical acts such as striking, pushing, slapping, or choking.

  • Sexual abuse: any type of forced sexual activity or coercion. Sexual contact with anyone under the age of 16 is a crime, as is sexual activity that exploits anyone under the age of 18.

  • Emotional abuse: using words or actions to affect someone’s emotions.

  • Financial abuse: the intent to misuse someone’s finances or property.

  • Neglect: not providing basic human needs such as food, shelter, clothing, health care and protection from harm.

  • Exposure: when children are aware that any of the abuses listed above are happening in their home.

What are the signs of family violence?

By educating the general public on the types and signs of family violence we can come together to end the cycle of violence. Often, people who are or have experienced a form of family violence are encouraged to reach out and tell someone they trust, but understandably this can be difficult.

While indicators of family violence aren’t always identifiable, some possible signs of someone experiencing family violence could include:

  • Bruising, cuts, breaks or sprains, or the general fear for safety

  • Intentional hiding of bruising or injuries with makeup or clothing

  • Dramatic change in dress or appearance

  • Lethargy, being easily distracted and dismissing fundamental needs such as eating

  • Severing or avoidance of personal relationships

  • Difficulty concentrating on work, school or other tasks

Who is at risk?

According to 2016 Family Violence in Canada Report produced by the Chief Public Health Officer, just under 9 million Canadians, or approximately one in three people, said they experienced some form of abuse before 15 years of age.

Women, children, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and those that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans or questioning are at a greater risk of experiencing family violence and feeling its impacts.

However, men are just as susceptible to domestic abuse. According to a May 2016 report on domestic violence produced by the Calgary Police Service, one in five victims of domestic conflict is male.

Family violence counselling

These statistics are alarming and sobering. But it is important to know that help is available, counselling works and change is achievable. For the month of November, and every month, we at the Calgary Counselling Centre are committed to providing results-driven counselling services with no waitlist and no financial barrier to help end the cycle of violence.

Learn more about the family violence counselling services we offer.

Need help or more information on family violence or domestic abuse?

Have you been acting in ways that make you feel uncomfortable? Are you feeling badly about how you have recently treated your child, partner or family member? If you or someone you know is exhibiting or experiencing these types of behaviours, we can help. Consider booking a session with a counsellor today or call 403-691-5991.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or need of help, call 9-1-1 or your local police emergency number.

Nick Heer