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Help us get Enrico home

When Anna Barbosa left her relationship, she also left her dog, Enrico, with her ex-partner. After she moved out, he decided he no longer wanted the pet, so Anna was looking for a temporary housing solution for the dog until she could move into a new place that allowed Enrico to live with her. In the meantime, her ex-partner, who knew that Anna wanted to keep the animal, released Enrico to the Calgary Humane Society without Anna’s knowledge.

“I wanted to keep my pet with me,” explained Anna. “I love Enrico and would have taken him with me if I could have at the time. My ex knew this would hurt me, and he gave away my dog to show me that he still had control over me even though I left. Someone out there has my dog, and I’d really just like him back.”

Anna reached out to the Calgary Humane Society to explain the situation and attempt to get Enrico back from them. But, it was too late. The dog had already been adopted by another Calgary family.

“This is a form of domestic abuse called coercive control,” explained Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director of Sagesse. “It happens in places we don’t often think about, like pet ownership, and it can leave a lasting impression of loss of control and fear. There is a family out there who has this dog. I don’t understand how this family can, in good conscience, keep a dog that they know was given away as a form of domestic violence control.”

Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour used to regulate and dominate another person’s daily life. It can take many forms, including undermining your confidence and relationships with others, limiting your ability to access money and support, and monitoring your communication and location. It can continue even after someone has left a relationship.

“Coercive control is hidden and dangerous,” said Silverstone. “Domestic violence is a complex problem that can only be addressed when everyone in the community works together to end it. Abuse thrives in silence and shadow. We encourage all organizations to expand their thinking of domestic violence to include coercive control. If the Humane Society had a more inclusive policy, this dog would not have gone to a new home.”

We would like to help Anna get her dog back. If you have adopted Enrico, he was given away without Anna’s knowledge.

If you know where Enrico is and would like to reconnect him with Anna and her daughter, you can reach us at info@sagesse.org.

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Coercive Control: This Changes Everything

Coercive control is subtle but harmfulWhen is exerting control part of the give-and-take of a relationship, and when is it abuse? Is wanting your partner to let you know where they are at all times, or insisting on a strict budget, domestic violence?

If it is a pattern of behaviour used to regulate and dominate another person’s daily life, it may be. It’s called coercive control, and it is a common and harmful form of abuse.

“Coercive control seeks to strip away a person’s freedom and their sense of self,” says Andrea Silverstone, director, Sagesse Domestic Violence Prevention Society.

“The person using violence creates a world in which the person experiencing abuse is constantly monitored and criticized; their every move is checked against an unpredictable, ever-changing, unknowable rulebook.”

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Hello? How Are You?

Connect with Sagesse on LinkedInIt’s been a while (technically more than a year; is that still classified as “a while”?) since we posted a blog… and we have a lot to talk about.

On top of the public and economic crisis, the spread of COVID-19 was a catalyst for a shadow pandemic. Across the globe, instances of violence against women increased more than 30 percent. This also continued in our own backyard. While domestic violence calls to the Calgary police may have gone down in 2020, people in lockdown with their abusers needed more — and reimagined — support.

We quickly pivoted our programming at the beginning of the pandemic to provide online peer support and workshops. We also introduced text and chat support across the Province. It was an all-hands-on-deck response, which taught us valuable lessons about innovation and made us hold strong to one of our values: Trust in the Messiness.

We’re going to share these hard-earned lessons and insights in future blogs. But we don’t want this to be one-sided; we want to hear your take and learn how you’re tackling complex social issues. Follow us on our re-vamped LinkedIn page, where we’ll be keeping the conversation going.

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