A local emergency shelter has seen a major increase in the need for their services.

True North, formally the Wheatland Crisis Society, saw a 19 per cent increase in individuals and families entering the shelter and a 27 per cent increase in crisis calls over the last year. 

"We also saw a dramatic increase in scores related to what we call danger assessments (an instrument used to determine the degree of risk a woman is facing in her current home) with 76 per cent of those screened at high or extreme risk of being killed by their abuser," said Executive Director of True North, Linda McLean.

McLean believes there are numerous factors relating to the need for help in domestic violence situations.

"Economic pressures have increased strain on families everywhere and contribute to conflict and potential for violence in high-risk families."

She points to the lack of affordable housing as a major contributing factor. 

"These situations contribute to increased risk of conflict, family breakdown, and domestic violence."

There are also longer waits for services and support for those in abusive situations.

McLean has noticed a large influx of immigrants and refugees, especially from Ukraine, Syria, and other war zones.

"Families arriving have experienced trauma, and are facing significant stress due to the transition to Canada, language barriers, housing barriers, employment barriers, isolation, and loneliness. This increases the risk of domestic violence within families and any time our population grows, we will see more demand on our social services."

In the past year, shelters in Alberta have answered 59,215 calls for help from people who were being impacted by domestic violence.

"The key point is that almost 60,000 people in this province sought help from an emergency shelter in this past year and that Alberta has the highest rate of domestic violence in the country." 

44 percent of those calls were answered by small town and rural shelters. 

Half of all people who stayed in emergency shelters due to domestic violence last year were children.

"It is something that can become intergenerational because what children live with and learn is what they grow up to repeat in their lives. It's super important for those of us in this field to share with the public that when we're providing support for not only what is happening now but in the future as well."

To donate to True North, visit their website

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