November is Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta. Crystal Boys, founder of Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. (Protecting Our Women with Emergency Resources), said awareness is imperative in this silent epidemic.
“This is something that’s happening now and continues to happen. The less we talk about it, the easier it is for the abuser to hide,” she said.
Dating back to 1986, starting as a local initiative in the town of Hinton, four individuals launched Alberta’s first family violence education and prevention campaign. More than 30 years later the problem is just as, if not more, prevalent in Albertan society, specifically in Airdrie.
“Our statistics are four times higher than the provincial average,” Boys said.
According to Boys, the Airdrie RCMP received 1,112 calls in 2016 relating to domestic violence, averaging two or three per day.
“Typically,…only 10 per cent of women report domestic violence,” Boys said. “Those reports are just barely scratching the surface of what’s actually occurring.”
Airdire P.O.W.E.R. will launch the purple campaign this month in hopes the public will show support by wearing a purple ribbon.
“If we can get everybody to wear purple ribbons – we like to call it paint the town purple – and just show our support and let everybody know we’re here and we’re working on (it),” Boys said.
Boys said the feelings of shame and embarrassment a domestic violence victim suffers adds to the feeling of helplessness.
“We want to change that. We want to have it so that victims feel no (shame) about reporting domestic violence,” she said.
Aiming to create a society that is aware of the stigma that comes with family violence, Boys said awareness is key.
“Having a whole month dedicated to awareness gives us an opportunity to remind people that this is not a problem that has gone away and we need to keep working on it,” she said.
Airdrie P.O.W.E.R. is currently raising funds to build a shelter in Airdrie and is looking at locations within the city or just on the outskirts.
“Whatever we can get our hands on, we’ll make work and we’re excited that we’re getting closer to that,” Boys said.
For more information on where to purchase a ribbon or to donate, visit airdriepower.com