According to the numbers, among the provinces, the rate of family violence in Saskatchewan was 453 victims per 100,000 population.
Helene Davis, a counsellor with Family Service Saskatoon, meets with children from ages five and up as well as all combinations of family members.
The damage done to people who are exposed to violence varies, but Davis said survivors live in a state of hyperarousal.
“They’re always in their fight-or-flight mode. And that’s not good. That’s not a good way to live. It’s hard to experience the joys of life when you’re always walking on eggshells and always afraid,” she said.
Davis said violence from guardians puts children in a struggle with conflicting notions.
“Their main go-to person is usually their parents and they believe that their parent loves them and then they’re experiencing violence from this parent. So that’s contradicting the love message,” Davis said.
“Their understanding is limited because they’re (young)… They’re all conflicted with these notions and then they struggle with that, as a young person growing up, and they can become alienated and then they can perpetrate violence against their partners as young people. And the cycle of intergenerational violence is perpetuated.”
The report also said it is important to note that the victimization of children and youth is often difficult to detect — particularly in the context of family violence — and police-reported data are likely an underestimation of the true extent of the issue.
Davies believes society is getting better at denouncing violence but stigma hinders conversation on the matter.
“We can’t be defeatist about it. We have to work with the side of people that is honourable. The side that’s looking to live a life of respectful relationships. And we have to have discussions… we have to work also as a community and keep talking about this,” Davis said.
“And we have to not be afraid to have discussions in our families about this and be very clear about what’s acceptable behaviour and what’s not acceptable behaviour. And that violence in the name of discipline is not OK. That’s a conversation that needs to be had every day in our classrooms and in our family life.”
“People need to access community services, whether the groups I run or the individual counselling I do or that kind of thing to be able to talk about it before it gets more serious, to be able to problem-solve as a family, to be able to problem-solve as members of a couple. For children to be able to find their voice in standing up against mistreatment.”
Family Service Saskatoon recently received $2,500,000 from Public Safety Canada for a five-year project to address a variety of activities designed to prevent youth violence. Referrals are currently being accepted and groups and activities are expected to begin in 2020.
Other interpersonal violence and abuse programs in the province can be found on the Saskatchewan government’s website.
Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2018 was produced by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics and released on Dec. 12.