Every hour of every day, a woman in Alberta will experience some form of interpersonal violence from an ex-partner or ex-spouse.* That’s one of the chilling facts discovered by Lana Wells, the Brenda Strafford Chair at the University of Calgary, in her groundbreaking report “Preventing Domestic Violence in Alberta: A Cost Savings Perspective.” Her research was funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation and coauthored by Casey Boodt and Dr. Herb Emery.
“We didn’t know the full economic costs of domestic violence,” Wells says. “I wanted to build a business case so government would have strong data to make better decisions on funding and policy.” Her findings were startling enough to convince the Province of Alberta to make a significant investment in additional research and to spend the next two years developing a new policy framework designed to prevent family violence.
Alberta’s new framework is based on a ‘whole government’ approach that integrates prevention into everything from high school curriculum, to parenting programs, to protocols for professionals who work with families. The potential impact is enormous: one trial study found that using nurses to support new mothers over a three-year timeframe led to a 37% reduction in family violence. “That’s gigantic,” says Wells.
*This only refers to domestic violence experienced by women who have left an abusive relationship. The total frequency of domestic violence would be much higher if you also included women who are currently in an abusive relationship.
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