November marks Family Violence Prevention Month, and local advocates continue to work hard to bolster awareness about the issue.
“It actually became a society in 1987,” said Judi Beebe, coordinator of the Stettler Society for the Prevention of Family Violence. “At that time, the FCSS director and other people in the community felt that we needed something more local to help address issues around domestic violence,” she explained. The Society is based in the FCSS office on Main Street, and Bebe added that FCSS has always been very supportive with the Society’s mandate as well.
They’ve been going strong since those early days, through events such as in-school presentations and educational activities.
Each year, the Society also produces a calendar. This year’s edition features various people from the community offering their thoughts on the issues surrounding family violence.
At the beginning of the month, the Society also organize the signing of a proclamation with Stettler Mayor Sean Nolls and Stettler County Reeve Larry Clarke.
Another campaign members help out with each November is the disbursement of 12 dozen roses to various businesses and organizations across the community.
“We give each business one rose in a vase, and ask them to display it on a counter. The idea is that, through the month, that rose is going to die,” she explained. “This represents the effects on families that domestic violence has.”
The roses are also given in memory of the women, children and men in Alberta who have died as victims of domestic violence.
At the end of the month, volunteers head out to pick up the vases once again so they can be re-used the following year as well.
“We also have a couple of banners – one of which we usually put up in front of the RCMP station. The other one we try and put up in different locations throughout the month such as the Recreation Centre or FCSS – different locations like that so that people can see it as they go by,” she said. “It’s a reminder that domestic violence happens in every community, and we are trying to eliminate it.”
According to the Government of Alberta, family violence is defined as, “An abuse of power in a family or other trusting relationship where people rely on each other. When someone experiences family violence, their well-being, security and survival are threatened.
“There are many terms or names for family violence with similar meanings. Family violence is a broad term that includes: domestic violence, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, child abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse, elder abuse and neglect, and witnessing the abuse of others in the family.”
Beebe has been with the Stettler Society for the Prevention of Family Violence since its inception.
She also works for another organization based in Edmonton, through which she does training throughout the province.
She also noted that rates of domestic violence have been going up throughout the pandemic as well, and that local police say they’ve been going out to more calls of late.
“The other thing that our committee does is that we run a men’s group for men who have been charged with assault against their partners,” she said. “We take self-referrals as well, but the majority of the men are usually court-mandated. We run a women’s group also.”
The provincial web site also points out that Alberta has the third highest rate of self-reported spousal violence among Canadian provinces, yet family violence is preventable.
“Family Violence Prevention Month…is a time to increase awareness of the resources and supports available so we can work together to end family violence and build healthier relationships in our communities.”
Ultimately, what helps keep Beebe passionate about what she does is the constant opportunity to truly make a difference in so many lives.
“My role is also always about making things better for children,” she explained. “If we have healthy adult relationships, then we have healthy and safe children. So even though a lot of my work is with adults, it really is also about making things safer for children, too.”
For more information, find the Stettler Society for the Prevention of Family Violence on Facebook.
Those affected by family violence can also call the the Family Violence Info Line (310-1818) which is available toll-free to Albertans 24/7 in over 170 languages.