The provincial government is launching what it calls a “powerful” public awareness campaign Monday to address interpersonal violence and abuse.
The campaign is timed to coincide with Violence Prevention Week, which runs from November 30 until December 5. The campaign is a partnership between the ministries of justice and corrections and policing and the provincial status of women office. The theme is “excuses only cover the truth. Face the issue. End the abuse,” and includes videos to launch on major TV stations and social media.
The province also collaborated with United Way and 211 to update online content designed to provide help for people facing interpersonal violence. Further updates are set to be posted as part of a $400,000 investment in online and call line supports for interpersonal violence and abuse.
Those supports were part of the recommendations released in a 2018 domestic violence death review report. The report came out in May and looked at domestic homicides from 2005 to 2013. It also found that Saskatchewan had the highest rate of police-reported interpersonal and domestic violence of all provinces across all relationships.
The campaign launching Monday is designed to “highlight the shared responsibility to shift attitude and norms that perpetuate interpersonal violence,” the province said.
The campaign also involves the participation of Saskatchewan Towards Offering Partnership Solutions (STOPS) to Violence, a provincial network of individuals and organizations working together to reduce interpersonal violence and abuse and to build communities where all people are safe and valued.
“This year is about the theme of all of us,” STOPS executive director Tracy Knutson told the Herald when reached by phone Friday.
“All of us are impacted by violence, but it also takes all of us to solve the problem.”
STOPS has created toolkits organizations and individuals can use during Saskatchewan Violence Prevention Week.
Knutson said a number of the coalition’s partners are reporting increased calls related to domestic violence during the cOVID_19 pandemic as people are encouraged to stay home. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) reported similar findings when it launched its new free, online counselling service earlier this month.
STOPS said the updated 211 supports are welcomed and something the community has been asking about for many years.
She said there are a few things people can do to prevent violence and help victims.
“We encourage people to check in with each other,” Knutsen said. “To look out for each other. To ask the simple question ‘are you okay’ and to become familiar with the services and programs available in case someone does need help.”
She also said if anyone knows someone who uses violence in their relationships, reaching out could help because often perpetrators of violence are also struggling.
“Some support might change things in that dynamic.”
Only reach out and offer help, she said, if it’s safe to do so. Offering a safe place to stay or a reliable shoulder to lean on can make a big difference.
“It’ s important for people to make sure they themselves are safe. Listening to people and believing them when they make a disclosure is important,” Knutsen said.
“When someone needs help, one of the most critical things any of us can do is to reach out to them and let them know that they aren’t alone,” Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell said in a press release.
“These aren’t comfortable conversations, but they are necessary conversations that we need to have with each other to address the high rates of interpersonal violence we’re seeing as a province.”
“This campaign features the faces of strong and diverse women, who are slowly covered up by the excuses people around them use to avoid taking action when they see signs of interpersonal violence and abuse,” Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Office Laura Ross said. “These faces represent mothers, daughter, sisters, aunts, nieces, friends – someone we can all relate to – that is why starting the conversation about the impact on Saskatchewan families and communities is critically important.”
For more information on ways to support victims and available supports, visit FaceTheIssue.ca.
If you’re in crisis in Prince Albert, call mobile crisis at 306-764-1011.
Both the 211 portal and the STOPS page include safe exit buttons (which rapidly close the website you were on and switch to Google) and instructions on how to clear your browser history if you fear you are in danger while accessing online help. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.