The head of a women's centre in Brandon says it's seen a rise in domestic violence reports, along with an increase in drug use and other violence in the southwestern Manitoba city.
Brandy Robertson, executive director of the Women's Resource Centre in Brandon, said staff have been busy with upwards of 30 people a day, between those with regular counselling appointments, walk-ins and people calling on the centre's crisis line. That's busier than they were at this time last year, she said.
"We have women coming in who say it's scary out there," she said. "It's really concerning to hear women saying that… I don't ever want women coming in and saying it's scary out there."
Brandon police weren't able to provide updated statistics on domestic abuse in Brandon by deadline. However, three people were arrested in domestic disturbances in the city on Thursday night alone.
In one instance, police said a man and woman were both arrested after a verbal argument escalated into alleged assault. In another incident, police alleged a man shoved his common-law partner during an argument.
Those incidents followed several others reported by police over the last two weeks.
'There's a lot of work to do'
"It's all really concerning and what we always say here is we never want to be busy," said Robertson. "We try to work really closely with police when we can.… There's a lot of work to do."
Robertson said there are a number of issues at play in each individual case councillors encounter. Sometimes, she said, safe housing is the first priority. For others, getting someone help for drug or other addictions needs is also a high priority.
Regardless, she said the community needs to come together.
"There's still this conception that Brandon doesn't have a drug problem, Brandon doesn't have a homelessness problem, we don't have a violence problem … but we do," she said.
Samaritan House Ministries offers four medium-term housing units for those escaping domestic violence Brandon. They are continuously full, according to executive director Thea Dennis.
In Regina, police recently announced a new strategy surrounding domestic conflicts — physical, sexual, psychological or emotional. Police there say they average 17 domestic violence-related calls per day.
Regina police announced additional training and resources as part of the strategy.
Back in Brandon, Robertson said while a number of different agencies are working to tackle issues like drug use and homelessness in Brandon, public education is key.
"I think people can be aware," she said. "Educate themselves and educate everybody around them."