A new campaign by the Edmonton Police Service is focusing on a growing problem: domestic violence.
The new ads could be disturbing to some.
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“We’re trying to get people’s attention, that’s all. In looking at these, I see this type of thing every day, so it’s not that shocking to me,” says Staff Sergeant Darcy Strang, with the Domestic Offender Crime Section. “However, it would be shocking to the general public, and it’s nice to be able to let the general public know that this is a crime that produces horrific effects.”
The statistics in Edmonton may be shocking as well. Police responded to 30 per cent more domestic related calls this year.
“The police service recognizes it’s a very concerning issue, and like I said before, when it comes to the victim leaving the relationship or the offender being released from jail those are sort of choke points when sometimes the most violence occurs,” says Strang.
The number of murders at the hands of domestic violence has also spiked. The Domestic Offender Crime Section, which deals with the most violent cases, handles about 100 cases a year.
“Someone who may not even have a much of criminal background before, but just due to the emotion, might end up doing something that he or she is out of character, but due to the emotion occurs,” explains Strang.
Last week, Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht made a plea to city council for more money. A portion of the added funds would be put towards having more people working in the Domestic Offenders Crime Section.
“You know on any given weekend we’re looking at six or seven serious domestic assaults,” said Chief Knecht.
Janine Fraser, who’s the executive director with Win House, a women’s shelter in Edmonton, believes the number of cases is increasing in the city because more victims are reporting domestic violence, not because more Edmontonians are being abused.
“I think that they know they’re being supported, that there are so many different resources in place that will work to support them,” says Fraser.
However, the number of victims and witnesses who aren’t reporting domestic related violence remains high; estimated to be at 70 per cent. Financial restraints, loss of custody of children, and leaving children in the hands of an abuser, are among the reasons victims don’t report violence.
“Domestic abuse is about power and control, so as soon as an abuser knows that they can have some power and control, and they use the children, they’re right back in the cycle, and victims know that. They know that from living with the abuser. So generally speaking, they may not report because what they’re trying to do is mitigate their own risk,” says Fraser.
The new ads are part of an effort to urge victims and witnesses to have a voice.