- A policeman accompanies a young (20ish) black woman into the ED, She is brutally beaten up with severe bruising all over her face and scrapes on her hands as if she had been dragged on cement.
- She avoids eye contact with other ED patients, sits quietly with eyes focused on the floor.
- The policeman speaks in respectful and kind tones to the young woman and explains he's going to talk to a physician and she should remain in the ED waiting area.
- A well dressed woman, perhaps a minister, accompanying an older disoriented woman, leaves her charge, approaches the young battered woman, and sits beside her quietly saying a few words. The young woman begins to cry silently, with tears streaming down her face.
- The policeman comes out of the ED 'pod area' with a physician who looks at the young woman and says, yes, let's take her in immediately.
In reviewing this 'slice of life' both I and my spouse begin to cry. When you see the results of violence on an individual human being it makes it so much more real than statistics.
We don't know if this young woman's beating was a case of domestic abuse but it may have been. This issue has only gotten worse in Alberta since the collapse of oil prices and resulting economic downturn.
Source: Domestic silence: Meet the faces of abuse (by Jana G. Pruden, Edmonton Journal, 15 Nov. 2015)
Alberta has one of the highest rates of reported intimate partner violence in the country. There were almost 13,000 calls to police in the province in 2013, nearly 8,000 in Edmonton alone.
A recent report by The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters showed more than 10,000 women and children stayed at shelters between spring 2014 to spring 2015, and nearly double that — almost 19,000 women and children — had to be turned away because of lack of space. There were more than 50,000 crisis phone calls to shelters in the same period.
Since August, four women have been killed in alleged or confirmed domestic homicides in the Edmonton area.As someone who observed up close the abuse of a beloved aunt for years, I'm well aware why victims may stay with abusers, especially if they have multiple children to care for, they have never worked outside the home, and abusers provide a roof over their head and food on the table.
About the young victim's demeanor in this case, with eyes focused on the floor, we wonder if she wrongly feels shame at being beaten up, as if it reflects on her worth, not the character of whoever battered her. That possibility is sad indeed.
A map of Alberta's women shelters includes Fort McMurray. It's currently unknown if its facilities survived the wildfire. In any case, please consider donating to Alberta's shelters. They need your help and support day in day out, year in, year out.