Domestic violence calls in Calgary spike during good times and bad

The Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter says there could be domestic stress when the economy is hot and when it's not.

Calgary Emergency Women's Shelter says calls to the crisis line go up during booms and busts

The Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter (CWES) provides emergency housing for up to 50 women and children at a time. (CWES Blog)

The executive director of the Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter says there could be a relationship between Alberta's boom and bust cycles and domestic violence.

Kim Ruse says calls to the shelter's crisis line have gone up 300 per cent since last December — the beginning of Alberta's economic downturn.

However, she says the shelter also saw a spike in Calgarians reaching out for help when the price of oil was high.

"So we're starting to wonder if it might be tied to stressors that happen when times are good and bad."

However, she says the shelter does deal with more complex cases when times are bad. Not just the "I need out," she says, but more of the "I lost my job" or "we're having problems."

Ruse says the shelter is full most nights and some women with families are so desperate they're showing up at her office.

"Looking for a place to stay and they're fleeing violence. Right there, right now in our admin offices. We haven't seen that in some time."

Shelters 'not answer' to domestic abuse

The Calgary Women's Emergency shelter serves 15,000 Calgarians every year, says Ruse, but more needs to be done.

"The shelters are not the answer to the issue. We can keep building shelters and filling them and we turn people away so we can certainly fill more shelters. But if we're really going to address the problem and make a difference we have to start at the root causes. And that means working with men."

The shelter runs a counselling program for abusive men who enroll on a volunteer basis. It's currently full and has a waiting list.

Ruse says if you suspect a friend or family member is being abused, you should offer support rather than blame.

"People say, 'Well why do you stay?'...They're more likely to go further down that road of getting support if they get a positive social response. And that's something every Calgarian can do."


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