It’s about caring, understanding, support and awareness. In Calgary, and throughout North America, there is an urgent, ugly and often denied fact of life known as family violence and abuse.
This year, Calgary’s 24th annual Turning Points Fundraising Gala will create awareness and celebrate the courage and determination of Calgary families who are striving to live free from family violence and abuse.
“Unfortunately, it continues to be an issue in our city,” says Kim Ruse, executive director of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, the organizers of the vital Calgary special event. “It crosses all neighbourhoods, age groups, religions, ethnicities and economic backgrounds.”
She acknowledges that, while community perception is changing, there are still some lingering myths and stereotypes – particularly the assumption that only certain types of people experience family violence and abuse and that it doesn’t happen to just anyone.
“It impacts the entire community and is a serious problem. Everyone needs to be involved to help find a solution. It’s well documented that family violence and abuse has no boundaries. Victims come from all walks of life, cultures, income levels and educational backgrounds,” she points out.
Another common misunderstanding is that the problem is always physical. It is not! “Abuse is more than hitting and slapping. It can be emotional, verbal, financial and sexual. It happens in many forms, all of which are serious, harmful and unacceptable.”
Although the situations are all too ugly and real, and even though the conversation and community consciousness is happening, there is still stigma and shame attached.
According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, responding to violence and abuse costs the Canadian economy more than $7 billion annually in police, judicial and health-care resources. Statistics Canada says a woman is killed by her intimate partner every five days.
Close to home, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter is on the front lines, providing hope and support to vulnerable Calgarians. The shelter served more than 15,000 clients last year, and its 24-Hour Family Violence Helpline received close to 12,000 calls.
The April 26, Turning Points Take a Stand Against Family Violence and Abuse Fundraising Gala, at the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, will not only increase awareness about family violence but generate funds for the crucial Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter programs and services that provide much needed support, services and information aimed at ending family violence and abuse in the Calgary community.
Programs include the Family Violence Helpline with professionally-trained counsellors answering questions and providing safety planning, counselling and support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; the Emergency Shelter, with safe and secure accommodation, nutritious meals, basic essential items and referral services for women and children fleeing family violence and abuse; and community services counselling with emotional and practical support for women who may be experiencing family violence and abuse but unable or choose not to enter the Emergency Shelter.
On April 26, the Turning Points Fundraising Gala will be a special evening, featuring a superb dinner, silent and live auctions, fun raffles and truly inspiring stories.
For tickets and any information, visit www.calgarywomensshelter.com or call (403) 290-1552 ext. 410.