Domestic violence surges in Saskatoon over the summer months

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WATCH ABOVE: With the highest rates of domestic violence in the country, shelters say now is the time of year women and children seek refuge and when calls to police for help begin to surge – May 26, 2017

It’s a statistic women’s shelter officials say Saskatchewan should be ashamed of.

The province has the highest rate of domestic violence in the country and now is the time of year that emergency shelters often see an influx of women and children seeking refuge.

READ MORE: Sask. Justice Ministry releases interim Domestic Violence Death Review report

“Usually around the five or six thousand calls is what we’ll be receiving at our service,” Staff Sgt. Darcy Shukin, with the targeted enforcement unit of the Saskatoon Police Service, said.

“It could be just an argument, all the way to an assault or something more serious than that.”

Some of those calls can be duplicates, added Shukin, multiple sources reporting one incident from within same household, apartment building or neighbourhood.

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“If there are any grounds for us to believe that a criminal offence has occurred, we will lay charges and we will arrest the aggressor,” Shukin said.

“We will remove them from the home to prevent any type of continuation of that offence or any further harm.”

Even if the victim is covering up for the aggressor, officers will press charges if warranted. The accused then is taken to the detention unit, appears before a justice of the peace and a no-contact between the two parties ordered.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, approximately every six days, a woman is killed in Canada by her partner or former partner.

Between 2005 and 2014 in Saskatchewan, data showed that there were 48 domestic homicides in the province and nine domestic violence-related suicides.

The interim report also showed the majority of the victims were women and most offences were committed by men. One-third of the victims were under 21 and nearly two-thirds of the victims were attacked in their own home.

READ MORE: Domestic violence support workers want to see further prevention through education

According to Shukin, domestic violence calls spike during the summer months. Intoxicants like alcohol are used more often which tends to aggravate already volatile situations.

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At Saskatoon’s YWCA Crisis Shelter and Residence, there are 18 rooms that officials say are always full.

Women and children can stay for up to 30 days and, in some cases, a bit longer depending on circumstances, such as if the family is moving into a new home requiring an extension to their stay at the shelter.

Approximately 950 women, youth and children stayed at the facility which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week but others had to be turned away.

On any given night across the country, 3,491 women and 2,274 children sleep in shelters because things aren’t safe at home.

“We have a 33 bed capacity and there are 11 rooms so that’s a mixture of various sizes of families, a family unit that comes in will get a room to themselves,” Maj. Mike Hoeft, with the Salvation Army, said.

READ MORE: Sask. residents fleeing domestic violence can now break a lease penalty-free

At Mumford House, located in an undisclosed area of the city – summer is one of their busiest times of year.

“We’re not strictly a home or shelter for people fleeing domestic violence – but we certainly see it – a lot,” Hoeft added.

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Experts say any time a woman feels like she’s in an unsafe situation, an exit action plan is essential to improve the chances of leaving safely.

Women needing assistance can also contact the YWCA Crisis Shelter at 1-306-244-2844 for help.

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