With the COVID-19 pandemic soon to enter its first winter, Alberta’s rural communities continue to bravely meet the challenges created by the unprecedented health crisis.
Whether its practising good physical distance and hand washing to ensure that seniors in long-term care remain safe or helping business owners by shopping locally, the vast majority of rural residents are doing their part to see the community-at-large through to better days.
Sadly, there is a small number of residents in rural Alberta who have decided to put themselves before the wellbeing of everyone else by committing acts of domestic violence during these trying times.
As shocking as it may seem, statistics show that instances of family violence have actually increased since the pandemic began nine months ago.
Alberta is currently recognizing Family Violence Prevention Month, a time set aside to highlight the need for individuals and the community-at-large to protect the vulnerable and make the guilty pay.
“The daily toll of domestic violence escalated during the pandemic,” said Rajan Sawhney, minister of Community and Social Services. “Episodes of abuse increase in frequency and severity as families experience the stress of job loss and/or isolation.
“While women and children are often the targets, abuse can happen to anyone. People may be caught between their abuser and the effects of COVID-19, such as fewer interactions with friends, colleagues and other family members.”
Meeting the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to require a massive and sustained community effort, as well as the spending of billions of dollars of public money.
As such, efforts to fight domestic violence and its related costs are certainly in the public interest, both now and going forward.
Working with community stakeholders, the province has made help for victims of domestic abuse available 24 hours a day through the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818.
As for the perpetrators of domestic violence, Albertans also have a readily available response: Call 911.
Dan Singleton is an editor with The Albertan