Thirty-four balloons were released into the sky from city hall last Monday to commemorate the 34 years that the Lloydminster Interval Home has served the community, and to kick off Family Violence Awareness Month.
Angela Rooks-Trotzuk, executive director of the Lloydminster Interval Home Society (LIHS), congratulated those who showed up for the event.
“Thankfully, there are things that all of us can do to make a difference,” she said. “You and I can have an effect; we actually can help.”
Family violence is an issue everywhere and it affects a lot of people, but Saskatchewan and Alberta see some of the highest rates of domestic abuse across Canada. That’s why it’s important to spread awareness, said Rooks-Trotzuk, and one of the ways the LIHS is doing that for the month of November, is to place red silhouettes around the city, each one depicting a different story of domestic abuse.
“It’s the first time we’ve had it in Lloydminster, but what the red silhouettes are, are life-size representations of someone, a symbolic representation, at least in our community, of someone who has been affected by family violence or lost their life,” said Rooks-Trotzuk.
“The cool thing about what we’re doing, is we’re going to put them outside in different locations throughout the city.”
Though the stories written on the silhouettes are fictional, they could just as easily be real. They will be placed around the city, in hopes that people will stop, read the stories on each statue and understand the affect that domestic violence has on individuals and the community.
Places like city hall, the RCMP detachment, Servus Sports Centre, the Civic Centre, The Canadian Brewhouse, Lloydminster Hospital and Lakeland College.
“The people that visit those locations and go out are able to read the stories and just understand how family violence does impact lives,” said Rooks- Trotzuk.
She also spoke about the issue of domestic violence, which doesn’t just include physical, but emotional, mental, spiritual and financial violence, to name a few. The occurrence and recurrence of abuse is identified by what she called the cycle of violence. This cycle is defined by a quick building of intimacy, followed by slow-acting emotional and psychological abuse before a violent episode occurs.
“Thankfully, a lot of the times women will leave, or men, if they’re in that relationship, will leave prior to it getting physical, but a lot of times that doesn’t happen,” she said.
If found in a violent or abusive relationship, Rooks-Trotzuk said that the first step to escaping is always to talk to someone about it, whether that be a neighbour, a friend or the police. The Interval Home can also help.
“We support them emotionally, mentally, we help them do safety planning because if somebody is going to leave a relationship, that is actually the most dangerous time,” she said.
“At Lloydminster Interval Home, we do believe strongly that this is an issue that all of us have to work towards solving and thankfully, we have many strong organizations in the community that have open arms in partnering with us to work against family violence.”
Partners like FCSS Group, Central Alberta Child Services, Saskatchewan Social Services, the Lloydminster Sexual Assault and Information Centre and Midwest Family Connections. But the individual is also important.
“We need to pay attention, we need to engage and we need to support,” said Rooks-Trotzuk.
Throughout the month, the Interval Home will be engaging the community to raise awareness on the issue.