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Ponoka’s seen rise in relationship ‘disharmony,’ domestic violence during COVID-19

While there has been an increase in files, not all have required charges to be laid

Although domestic violence tends to get more attention in October due to it being the national awareness month for domestic violence, it’s been of particular concern during the ongoing pandemic, and Ponoka is no exception.

Ponoka Victim Services Unit (PVSU) has seen a spike in calls regarding domestic violence files in 2020 versus 2019 during the same time period, according to PVSU program manager Brittany Sande.

From March to October, 2019, PVSU received 53 domestic violence files, and from March to October 2020, they took 91 domestic violence files.

However, although there has been an increase in “disharmony” in relationships where police intervention has been required, there has not been an increase in domestic assaults requiring charges to be laid, says Sande.

“So some relationships have felt police intervention is needed, but not enough to support charges,” said Sande.

From March to October 2019, Ponoka RCMP stats record a total of 164 domestic violence related files, and 203 in 2020 in the same time period.

However, in the time period referenced in 2019, 57 resulted in charges being laid, and in the same time period in 2020, 51 domestic violence files resulted in charges being laid.

There was also a slight increase of files where no charges were laid due to insufficient grounds, from 51 in 2019 to 60 in 2020 (from March to October).

There were two instances from the 2020 stats where there were no charges and those involved received a referral to a mediator.

Domestic Violence Domestic Violence is defined as any use of physical or sexual force, in an intimate relationship.

It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse through the use of controlling behaviour.

The pattern of abuse may include physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse, or stalking.

Domestic Violence cuts across every line of geography, income and social status. Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone; it does not discriminate.

Sande notes that domestic violence is not always observable through physical injury and changes in behaviour, demeanour, and social relationships can also be a signs of issues within an intimate relationship.

It is not always clear why domestic violence victims stay with their abusers, but the reasons can be complex and domestic violence has escalating steps, as illustrated by the following poem written by Jody M. Boyer:

He Hit Me Today, But That’s Ok

Day 1. He called me fat today but that’s ok because I did gain a few pounds. At least he didn’t call me dumb. Day 198. He called me stupid today, but that’s ok because I am forgetful sometimes. At least he doesn’t cheat on me.

Day 302. He told me I am not enough today and needs a side piece to satisfy his needs. That’s ok because I’m a tired mom, not a supermodel. I have health issues and work grueling shifts. At least he doesn’t get physically abusive.

Day 439. He pushed me down today, but that’s ok because I was obviously in his way & he was drunk. At least I don’t have bruises.

Day 562. He squeezed my arm so hard today it left a mark. That’s ok because he was focused on communication. At least he didn’t punch me.

Day 612. He hit me so hard today that it gave me a headache. That’s ok because I get headaches all the time and I know he didn’t mean to hurt me.

Day 729. He hit me today and I have bruises and swelling. That’s ok because I am a klutz and bruise easily. At least I don’t have broken bones.

Day 863. I woke up in the hospital today with tubes, wires, machines and hospital staff all around. But it’s ok. I’m still alive.

Day 1095. Today someone left flowers at my grave and whispered “Why did she let him get past day 1?”

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. For local support, contact your local Victim Services Unit, or reach out to your family doctor, or your family, friends, or a neighbour.

For resources in Alberta, visit endingviolencecanada.org.

– With files and stats from PVSU

and Ponoka RCMP

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