Claresholm to be site of Safe at Home pilot project

By Rob Vogt, Local Press Writer

When someone suffers domestic violence, they usually have to leave their home and all they know, while the perpetrator does not.

A new, innovative program being developed by the Rowan House Society in High River aims to change that, and the pilot project for the program will be right here in Claresholm.

The society announced on June 4 it has received $731,289 over four years from the Status of Women Canada’s Department for Women and Gender Equality for the new Safe at Home program, focusing on supports for women living in rural and remote areas.

Timmi Shorr, the society’s chief operating officer, explained the traditional way to addressing domestic violence was to remove the victim or victims from their home, where their lives are disrupted in a number of ways such as school and work.

Meanwhile, the perpetrator continues to lead the life he knows.

But does this really solve the problem, Shorr asked.

The victim leaves where she receives support and education, while the perpetrator receives nothing, and can do the same thing to someone else.

An innovative approach is needed to address the issue and Safe at Home does that.

“This turns the issue right on its head,” Shorr said.

With this new approach, incidents of domestic violence are identified, usually by the RCMP, and the perpetrator is removed, either voluntarily or involuntarily, from the home and provided with temporary housing and counselling to address his behaviours.

This provides more stability for victims of abuse, as the women and children remain safe in their own home and communities while receiving support from the society as needed.

Safe at Home will be the first program of its kind in Canada, and is based on a similar program in Australia.

Read more about this on page 2 of the paper.