Public officials declared war on a deadly in-home epidemic yesterday, and vowed to bring the privacy of family violence out from behind closed doors.
“We have to say, ‘It must end,’” front-line emergency doctor Raj Sherman said, following the announcement of Family Violence Prevention Month.
Medical professionals are renewing a commitment to screen patients for signs of domestic abuse, Sherman said, as cases often go unreported.
However, police Chief Mike Boyd said yesterday reports to police are on the rise.
He feels increased awareness is paramount in helping victims break their silence and for observers to spot warning signs.
“We never thought so much about the impact on families. By all of the research today, we know so much about what people learn growing up in a violent environment.”
Of the 11 homicide files considered “solved” by city police so far in 2009, four of the accused were related to the victims.
“To me, one is too many,” Boyd said.
“I often find myself thinking about the ones who did not survive.”
Death, a Grant MacEwan criminologist said, is family violence in its most extreme form.
Bill Pitt said added resources are the only solution to prevent deaths by what he calls “Alberta’s dirty little secret.”
“There will be much more family violence unless the social net is expanded to help people that are trapped in these relationships,” he said.
One in seven people are affected by the issue, either directly or indirectly, said Patrick Dillon, executive director of the soon-to-open Today Family Violence Help Centre.
The centre on 114 Street and Jasper Avenue is set to open at the end of the month, and will combine counselling, shelter, medical care and police intervention for victims and their families under one roof.
“There’s a huge need for these people,” he said.