Gateway Gazette

Rowan House Responds to Introduction of Clare’s Law Legislation

Society applauds Alberta Government for shedding light on the issue of Domestic Violence

High River, AB, October 17, 2019 – Rowan House Society is applauding the Alberta Government for its introduction of Bill 17, similar to the UK’s Clare’s Law. The Bill, also known as the Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence Act, sounds like it has the potential to be an important piece of the puzzle in breaking the cycle of violence.

Chief Operating Officer for the Society, Timmi Shorr, said a lot of the details of how the legislation will work still need to be ironed out, but she agrees it could save lives. “One of the ways we see it working is as a tool that our Outreach counsellors could use when meeting with women in the community who are struggling in relationships but are not ready to leave. An Outreach counsellor could potentially encourage their clients to make an application to help inform their safety planning as they make important decisions around their relationships.” Shorr noted that studies show the most dangerous time for an abused woman is when she is leaving the relationship.

Shorr is pleased the government has opened up the conversation around domestic violence and is recognizing the seriousness of the situation in Alberta.

“In our last fiscal year, Rowan House saw an increase in calls made to its crisis line and an increase in both admissions and turnaways of women and children,” she said. “This legislation is a great addition to the work being done to prevent and end domestic violence, but more resources and supports are still needed.”

Shorr explained that preventative education is another key component in addressing the root causes of abuse and reducing the number of instances of violence. “Abuse is complicated and doesn’t typically happen overnight. Many of the women who need access to Bill 17 may already be deep into a relationship and may not even realize they are being abused, particularly when the physical abuse isn’t happening.” She said, “But when they are taught at an early age what healthy relationships should look like, what red-flags to watch for, and how to set personal boundaries that are important to them, they are more likely to be able to recognize abuse and feel confident and empowered to make healthier relationship choices.”

Rowan House currently runs a program that provides age-appropriate Healthy Relationship presentations to schools across the Foothills and southern Alberta. It is made possible only through individual donations and grants.

Shorr said as the government works on domestic violence prevention, she would like them to consider more support for these types of evidence-based programs that have been proven to make a difference in breaking the cycle of violence.

Rowan House’s mission is to provide crisis intervention, long-term support and education for those affected by family violence in rural communities. In doing so, we work to fulfill our vision: that every person is safe and secure and lives without abuse.

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