July 24th, 2024

SACPA session addresses domestic violence

By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 24, 2023.

Herald photo by Steffanie Costigan Bonnie Millward, along with Linette Soldan, of the Rowan House Society speak Thursday during the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs.

Rowan House Society representatives spoke Thursday at the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA) on the topic of preventing domestic violence and abuse.

SACPA sessions are held at the Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization starting at noon.

The presentation focused on family violence prevention with Rowan House executive director Linette Soldan and Bonnie Millward, manager of client programs, addressing the audience.

Soldan shared a summary of what the Rowan House presentation would discuss along with the programing and supports Rowan House offers.

The presentation covered all of the society’s programs which include a support line, emergency shelter and a preventative education children’s outreach program, as well as a court support program.

“I think it’s important that we serve the second largest geographic area in the province,” said Soldan.

It was noted Soldan has more than 25 years of experience within the social services sector.

November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month which is an opportunity to promote awareness of services and resources available to people who need support, or medical attention, because of an experience involving intimate partner violence.

“It is a very important time for us to raise awareness about domestic violence and abuse in our communities and it is a time to let everybody know how they can support provide information and referrals,” said Soldan

“And also, to know about the signs of domestic violence and abuse. For the month of November, we continue to advise the community, we encourage people to attend events.”

Soldan explained the purpose behind Rowan House and described supports for victims of domestic violence.

“The mission and visions and values of Rowan House is for us to provide support for anybody who is experiencing domestic violence and abuse in our communities. We want to make sure that you individuals and our communities are thriving, and that they have healthy relationships. Our core values are safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment,” said Soldan.

Millward continued the presentation, sharing the trauma-informed lens Rowan House takes into account when helping families and individuals experiencing abuse.

“Everything that we do at Rowan House, we do through what we call a trauma- informed lens. We take into account and understanding of trauma in all aspects of service delivery. So really what that means is walking alongside people, recognizing where they come from, that everyone has a journey behind them and before them.

“And our role in supporting our clients is to make sure we’re meeting them where they’re at, meeting the goals that they have, and the needs that they have. And that takes on so many different forms,” said Millward.

Millward said Rowan House has a 24-hour support line for victims to call or text for support. She noted from April 1, 2022 until March 31, 2023 the support line had responded to 2,053 calls along with texts which was a 17 per cent increase compared to last year.

“We make sure that they every caller walks away with at least three other resources. We try to adopt the idea that every door is the right door. If we’re not the right door, we’ll help you find the right door,” she said.

Millward said the supports are not only for women with or without children but are for everyone experiencing domestic violence and abuse.

“We try to provide both mom and kids with the coping strategies to be healthy together.

“Some of the increases that we saw in the last fiscal year 156 children went through our shelter, which is a 111 per cent increase from the last fiscal year,” said Millward.

Rowan House, in their last fiscal year after pandemic, supported 223 women and children which was a 51 per cent increase over previous years.

Soldan said there is a difference between rural and urban perspectives on domestic violence.

“From an urban and a rural prospective, there is some uniqueness being specific for rural. One of the things, or the very first thing, that we find is sometimes within the rural aspect, some of the individuals are very nervous about feeling that they’re going to be believed when they tell their story about domestic violence and abuse,” said Soldan.

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