Family Violence Prevention Month kicked off in Calgary with a fair at the Municipal Building on Friday.
Domestic violence continues to not only be a problem in Calgary but across Alberta, which is why organizations gathered to help shed some light on the current situation.
So far in 2019, Calgary Police have responded to 15,324 domestic conflicts. While high, that number is 5 per cent lower than what police had dealt with at the same point last year.
Police say while these new numbers are a positive sign, they continue to deal with significantly more domestic violence calls than in the past with Calgary still on track to have 17 per cent more domestic violence calls than the five-year average.
“It’s an issue that touches every income bracket, every age, every group, every gender, every sexuality, and every cultural community,” Cliff O’Brien, Calgary Police Service superintendent, said.
“I’ll tell you that the Calgary Police Service attends an average of two domestic conflict calls every hour, every single day.”
For the City of Calgary, Family Violence Prevention Month is a time for both the City and the Calgary police to look to the public for help and to try and bring survivors forward.
“I learned early on that domestic violence is not a problem law enforcement alone can solve,” O’Brien said. “For sure we have a role to play, but unhealthy families do not become healthy with a pair of handcuffs.”
Police hope people who are struggling can step forward, as it’s not always obvious who may be in trouble.
“In many, many cases these are people you wouldn’t know are dealing with these issues,” the CPS superintendent said.
Patrizia Giampaolo is one of those people. She suffered through two relationships where she was both mentally and physically abused to a point where she nearly saw her life come to an end.
The difficult part for Giampaolo was when she stepped forward, she wasn’t taken seriously.
“Affluence and vulnerability are not synonymous so people weren’t recognizing that my issue was really an issue,” Giampaolo said. “I was just denied services and not seen as someone who was in a position where they needed the support of someone else.”
Giampaolo is hoping her story can be a message to others that coming forward and being a part of the conversation can save your life.
“You’re not alone, speak out,” Giampaolo said.
“There are well-intended individuals out there that do want to help, that do want to make a difference and if you’re not heard the first time — don’t stop, try again.”
For Family Violence Prevention Month, people are encouraged to wear purple to show their support for those going through the fight.
Victims of domestic violence are encouraged to reach out for help. There are a number of agencies available simply by calling 211.
Victims may also contact the Calgary Police Service anytime on their non-emergency line at 403-266-1234 or 9-1-1 if you are in immediate danger.