Provincial Collective Impact Initiative to Address Domestic Violence in Alberta

The Government of Alberta has provided $140,000 in funding to Sagesse to support the Provincial Collective Impact Initiative to address domestic violence across the province. The initiative will bring together a network of service providers to address shared issues, enhance services and supports across Alberta and identify opportunities for large scale change.  This work will build the capacity of service providers across the province and enable Albertans affected by domestic violence to have access to high quality supports in their communities.

Preventing domestic violence is going to take a collective effort, no single organization can do it alone. Everyone has a role to play. Sagesse recognizes that large scale social change requires broad cross-sector leadership, coordination, collaboration and engaged citizens. Working together, we can change the prevalence of domestic violence and build healthy and sustainable communities throughout the province.

“Domestic violence is not secluded to one or two communities or pockets of the province, it is in every community, that’s why working collaboratively on the issue is paramount. The Provincial Collective Impact Initiative will enable all stakeholders to capitalize on the knowledge, wisdom and direction Sagesse can offer in the area of domestic violence.”

  Lisa Hannaford, Manager of Green View Family and Community Support Services

“We as Albertans need to address the complexities that underpin the structures that support violence and create deep and durable impact. A provincial collective impact initiative will allow us to identify and support high-impact opportunities, share knowledge and influence norms and practices to address domestic violence across the province.”

   Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director, Sagesse

“Fort Saskatchewan Families First Society has greatly benefited from the partnership that we have created with Sagesse and its members. Collective work on issues of family violence is important as it provides consistency in our approach, assists us with identifying gaps and patterns and it gives agencies and organizations a collective voice to use when we are advocating for change.  We never feel alone in the work we do, as we have a greater momentum when working collectively.”

   Jodi Heidinger, Coordinator Family Violence Prevention Program, Families First Society

“No Albertan should live in fear or suffer alone. Our funding will help build vital supports for survivors in rural communities. We are proud to work with partners like Sagesse to further our commitment to end domestic violence in this province.”

   Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community and Social Services

Click here to learn more about the initiative.

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Women of Affluence – Research Release

In 2016, Sagesse identified a gap in services and supports for affluent women who are experiencing domestic violence (DV). This gap is not unique to Calgary; upscale violence is often overlooked by service providers and researchers in other jurisdictions as well. The experiences of affluent survivors are rarely studied or acknowledged in the DV literature, and service providers often fail to see the vulnerability of this population because they are not accustomed to associating risk or helplessness with privileged populations. While upscale violence shares many characteristics with DV among less affluent populations, some barriers, circumstances and cultural influences are unique to affluent women. Because these factors can have a powerful impact on the needs and help-seeking behaviors of affluent survivors, they must be considered in the design and delivery of DV services and supports.

“Although women of affluence experience domestic violence at the same rates as the rest of the population, this population is rarely studied, and few services exist to meet the needs of survivors with higher socioeconomic status”.

-Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director Sagesse

One of the ways in which violence in affluent communities distinguishes itself is the level of sophistication. Because affluent perpetrators have higher levels of power, resources and education on which to draw, their weapons can be all the more subtle and powerful.

“We need to recognize the culture of affluence as a distinct culture, and understand the ways in which it impacts disclosure, help-seeking, and the capacity to escape a violent relationship for women of affluence who are experiencing domestic violence. We need to let women of affluence know that domestic violence does happen to women like them and they are not alone”.

-Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director Sagesse

The Culture of Affluence:

The culture of affluence refers to the set of explicit and implicit beliefs and values in affluent communities that affect the ways in which children are socialized and family and community members interact as well as how society views affluence.

Challenges and Barriers specific to Affluent Violence:

Key challenges that affluent survivors are likely to face, including challenges related to:

  • Cognitive dissonance (e.g., that a highly capable woman could have married an abusive man, or that domestic violence doesn’t happen to ‘people like us’)
  • Not being believed because of the status of the abuser
  • Cultural norms and values related to discretion and keeping up appearances
  • Risks to one’s career or lifestyle
  • Issues related to eligibility criteria (i.e., the survivor has no access to financial resources but because she has money on paper, she is not eligible for low- or no-cost services)
  • Risks associated with lack of empathy, discrimination and misguided assumptions on the part of service providers

All of these findings have significant implications for the domestic violence sector in Calgary, suggesting the need for specialized outreach, training and capacity building (within and beyond the domestic violence sector), awareness raising campaigns, and advocacy.

Moving Forward:

Sagesse is committed to implementing a new program to address the specific issues and barriers women of affluence face when disclosing or seeking help for the abuse they suffer. We will also develop training for service providers and communities to empower them to appropriately address domestic violence within the context of the culture of affluence.

To read the full report, please click here

Watch Andrea Silverstone discuss the report

Cyndy Morin, Founder of Resolve Legal Group discusses her experience with domestic violence as an affluent woman

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