It is the Redcliff Youth Centre’s third year participating in National Family Violence Prevention Month in conjunction with the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter Society.
RYC members had the opportunity to walk down Broadway Avenue and tie purple ribbons around street lamp posts in recognition of the month on Nov. 1.
“It’s something that we think is so very important because domestic violence and family violence is so prevalent in so many communities,” said Janae Ulrich, RYC’s executive director.
“And it’s something that there should always be light and awareness being brought to those measures. I think it’s very important for youth to learn about and we partner with the Women’s Shelter very regularly. We always have the Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter come in every other month actually, usually pre-COVID, and figure out ways that we can talk to youth about a lot of concerning topics.”
Those topics include consent, family violence, domestic violence, teen dating, red flags and healthy relationships.
“Because sometimes when domestic violence is happening in the home, a lot of youth think that it’s normal,” said Ulrich.
“When you grow up in an abusive home or you have experienced the trauma of abuse or neglect—whether it’d be physical or emotional abuse. Youth often think that it’s normal because often you don’t know un-normal outside of your home when that’s the life and system you live in.”
The partnership with the Women’s Shelter allows for not only educating youth, but providing additional tools and resources to be able to pinpoint issues that are not normal.
“So now they have more tools to be able to communicate with their friends and how to spread the awareness and break the cycle essentially for other youth,” said Ulrich.
Natasha Carvalho, Medicine Hat Women’s Shelter executive director, said it’s important to reach out to the rural communities just so they’re not forgotten.
“People recognize that family violence is occurring all over the place and not just in our city, but in our surrounding area as well and we want to make sure the voice of those communities know that they can reach out for services too and by bringing awareness to those communities. I think it helps them realize we’re here and we’re available,” said Carvalho.
The Women’s Shelter is hosting webinars throughout the month including on Elder Abuse on Nov. 10 (10 to 11 a.m.), harm reduction and substance use on Nov. 16 (1 to 3 p.m.), supporting people with brain injury on Nov. 17 (1 to 2 p.m.), Nov. 18 will have a supporting pre-school and school aged children through family violence from 6-8 p.m. and the webinars will conclude on Nov. 23 with Sex Work 101: Shifting Perspectives (1 to 3:30 p.m.)
Registration can be done at http://www.mhwss.ca/webinars.html.
Webinars on Finding Shelter: In Take Into MHWSS Residential Programs, Supporting Youth through Family Violence and Supporting Indigenous Youth were held last week.
“We really recognize that during COVID as well that isolation is even more—people are working from home or you know they’re just being told to stay safe and stay home and we know that in these situations that just compounds the difficulty and the risk quite frankly” said Carvalho.
“And so, we want people to realize that they’re not alone and that there are supports out there.”
C arvalho said the Women’s Shelter saw 1,500 clients through various programming last year and 500 of those being children.
“I think for us, it’s really important get to the kids, (that) we know are experiencing family violence and we know we can have some early intervention and maybe break that cycle of family violence,” she said.
“If you tied a purple ribbon on outside your school with your leadership team or your school counsellor, something like that, maybe that’ll make it a bit easier to go in and talk to them a bit more about what’s going on in your own home and they can help access services for you and just start that.”