Tami Hutchinson

It’s time to Get Real about Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is at epidemic levels in Alberta with 1 in 3 individuals experiencing violence in their lifetime.  The impact of domestic violence knows no bounds. Incidents of domestic violence exist across rural and urban areas, within all cultural and faith communities, amongst university educated professionals with a roof over their heads and those who don’t know where their next safe place to sleep will be. 

All Albertans are impacted by domestic violence in our communities, this is an issue that is too big to be ignored.

It’s time to Get Real.

Real Talk is a guide to help us understand and talk about domestic violence in Alberta.  Learning how to talk about domestic violence isn’t fancy or complicated.  Real Talk is just a real moment between two people, it isn’t about trying to fix things, it’s about empowering change and bringing people together.  The  campaign is about all Albertans getting  and confronting domestic violence in our communities.

Real Talk is about:

Recognizing domestic violence,

Empathizing with the person impacted by the violence,

Asking them what they need, and

Listening without judgement.


There are many ways to get involved, learn more at realktalk.sagesse.org



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World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide rates in Canada have climbed to over 30 per cent since 2015. Relationship conflict and concurrent domestic violence is a factor in this rate. World Suicide Prevention Day is on September 10th – take the time to survey the people around you and do your part to support.

If you know someone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide, loneliness, hopelessness or is potentially in a situation of domestic violence, try utilizing some of these tools and resources to support them:

  1. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings in a safe space. Remember, it can be difficult to be vulnerable, but if you listen and are supportive, people are likely to open up.
  2. Try to work through the topic with them by listening and giving comments that are positive in nature. Be careful not to judge or place blame on their situation or thoughts.
  3. Connect them with some of the following resources:

The Calgary Distress Centre

 The Calgary Distress Centre (CDC) offers 24-hour support, counselling and resources. Last year the Distress centre responded to 113,975 communications from people in distress and they are there to support anyone in need.

Website: www.distresscentre.com

Call them at: 403.266.4357

Crisis Services Canada

Crisis Services Canada (CSC) is a national line network of existing distress crisis and suicide prevention line services. 

Website: http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/

Call toll-free at 1.866.456.4566

Text with them at 45645

Chat with them at: http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/#CdnSMSChat

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger Call 9-1-1

If you are believe you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse please call the 24-hour Family Violence Helpline – 403-234-SAFE (7233).

If you have been sexually abused in an intimate relationship: 24-hour Sexual Violence Support and Information – 403-237-5888 (Toll Free: 1-877-237-5888).

To report domestic abuse or violence: Calgary Police Service (Non-Emergency) Line – 403-266-1234.


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Why We Use Aromatherapy

Sagesse’s Use of Aromatherapy

By: Denise Watson, Allira Aromatics

Aromatherapy can be a very useful tool in life’s most challenging moments. Good quality essential oils are one of the only natural products that can be used to cross the blood/brain barrier (where the essential oil molecules go from the blood stream into the brain) and have a physical effect on our central nervous system and the limbic system (in the brain).

Our central nervous system is what connects our brain and spinal cord and is the pathway in which our brain tells our body what to do.

Our limbic system is where we store all our memories and the emotional responses we have. The olfactory bulb (sense of smell) is the first stop in the limbic system; therefore, memories attached to smells are quite strong. Our sense of smell is the fastest recall to our memories.

One thing of note, the physical healing properties of essential oils do the same thing on an emotional and spiritual level. Knowing this, I created a custom blend for Sagesse and the women they are empowering to heal, learn and grow. I selected four, very specific, essential oils; Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Clary Sage and Lemon.

Roman Chamomile is known for pain relief, its calming and soothing properties, and acts as a central nervous system sedative. It will aid in relaxing, calming overthinking, and encourage one to just breathe and relax.

Lavender is also known for pain relief, antidepressant qualities, it heals burns, calms, soothes, nurtures, reduces anxiety and acts as a central nervous system sedative. It will encourage ones’ state of mind, to relax and nurture ones’ self.

Clary Sage is known for pain relief, reduces anxiety, calms, and provides clarity, it is also a central nervous system sedative. It will encourage clear and rational thinking, and balance hormonal activity.

Lemon is known for being uplifting and cleansing, is an antidepressant, and aids in reducing tension. It will encourage rational thinking and give one a clear head.

The oils, together, encourage a peaceful blend of balance and calm within the user. They promote the kind of inner harmony and outer space that Sagesse strives daily to create for their clients and those around them. In essence, this particular blend is about wisdom, empowerment and strength.

Before using the spray, it is significant to create your own sentence, phrase or mantra;  to say each time you use this blend, for encouragement, healing, learning and growth.

Breathe. Relax. and know you have a clear mind to make sound decisions and have the power to move forward on this path of nurturing yourself, as it is for your greatest good.

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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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Sexual Violence Prevention Month

May has been officially proclaimed as Sexual Violence Prevention Month by the Government of Alberta. The Commitment to Preventing and Addressing Sexual Violence helps to remove the stigma attached with sexual violence and supports building momentum for addressing this issue. Sagesse is committed to being a part of collective efforts across Alberta that address sexual and domestic violence and working towards making Alberta safer for everyone.

#Didyouknow many victims of sexual violence are in an intimate relationship with their abuser? Sexual violence and domestic violence exist within the scope of oppression. It is how a perpetrator abuses power and control over a victim. A perpetrator can use a variety of violent and non-violent methods to take away a victim’s agency. These may include: violence, intimidation, emotional abuse, controlling money, making the victim feel like they are “crazy”, and sexual assault. Sexual violence is another form of controlling and taking away a person’s agency. Although some domestic violence victims have outward signs of abuse, many suffer abuse in other ways.

We know that disclosures of sexual violence are often hidden within the context of domestic violence due to fear and the stigma attached. Oftentimes, our society does not believe that an individual can be a victim of sexual violence by their spouse or partner. As long as we continue this narrative and do not acknowledge the sexual violence between partners, we dismiss a huge portion of survivors. The link between sexual violence and domestic violence in undeniable.

Recently, Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director at Sagesse sat down with Deb Tomlinson, Chief Executive Officer at the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services to discuss the intersection between domestic violence and sexual violence and how we as agencies can better work together moving forward. Take a look:


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Andrea Silverstone on Global Calgary

Andrea Silverstone our Executive Director was on Global Calgary this weekend discussing the prevalence of domestic violence in Calgary, what Sagesse is doing to prevent and end domestic abuse and how people in abusive relationships can get help.



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National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week!

April 15 – 21, 2018 is National Volunteer Week and Sagesse is especially grateful to all our volunteers who donate their time to empower individuals experiencing domestic violence across Alberta. Over the past year, more than 150 volunteers have donated more than 5000 hours to empowering individuals, organizations and communities to break the cycle of violence. Their generosity has impacted over 700 people as part of our mission to break the cycle of violence.

Volunteers at Sagesse wear many hats: They assist with delivering our peer support programs dedicated to empowering women who may be at risk of, or are experiencing abuse; they help with administrative tasks in our office; they participate in community events on behalf of Sagesse to help raise awareness around our programs and initiatives – just to name a few things! In short, we don’t know what we’d do without our wonderful volunteers, so we want to say a very big THANK YOU!

Sagesse is always looking for volunteers who have a passion for giving back and a love for curating healthy relationships to end domestic violence. Learn more about the many volunteer opportunities available at Sagesse and read more about our volunteer wellness program on our website at https://www.sagesse.org/volunteer/

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Welcome to the new Sagesse website

A little over two years ago Sagesse started on the path of envisioning a new brand and model for connecting our programs with the communities around us.  The final step in this journey comes with this newly imagined website.

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