A new online hub has been launched to provide reliable help, information and resources to Albertans experiencing domestic abuse.
The Domestic Abuse Resource Hub offers a wide range of resources, including connections to counselling, videos, podcasts and written materials. The online hub is based on research by Stephanie Montesanti, an associate professor in the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health.
“The hub is a one-stop shop where anyone can find information on domestic abuse that is credible, reliable and up to date,” Montesanti said.
The site is meant to be a resource for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, using abuse to harm, exploit or control another person, or for those providing support to others in those situations.
When users visit the site, they are asked a series of questions such as:
- Are you concerned that you may be experiencing abuse?
- Are you concerned about your potentially abusive behaviour?
The site uses artificial intelligence to target the information provided to the user. This can include supports such as peer support, housing support or resources specific to Indigenous, LGBTQ2 and elderly people, or people living with disabilities.
More than four in 10 women in Alberta — and six in 10 Indigenous women — experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, according to Sagesse, a province-wide domestic abuse agency that curates the content on the online hub.
In 2020, there were 18 family violence deaths — 15 victims and three perpetrators — according to an Alberta government report. Between 2011 and 2020, there were 165 deaths in Alberta due to family violence.
“The hub is designed for all Albertans who want to gather their own information,” said Carrie McManus, director of innovation and programs for Sagesse. “It’s that non-judgmental place where you can go and get information and you know that it’s good, and that it’s always going to be there.”
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Montesanti said most people who experience or use abuse don’t access services like a crisis line or counselling. Instead, they rely on informal support networks like family and friends. They do this, according to Montesanti, because they may feel shame or guilt, fear stigma or have privacy concerns.
Montesanti said the idea for the hub came up at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when domestic violence calls went down but then skyrocketed by 57 per cent.
The University of Alberta said Montesanti’s team did focus groups with domestic abuse survivors and with service agencies, which revealed that while there is a plenty of information on the internet about domestic violence, it may be outdated or incorrect. And the volume of information can often be overwhelming during stressful times.
Other resources available to those experiencing domestic abuse include: