With last year’s economic struggles, the Central Alberta Regional Vision for Non-Violence Coalition has seen an increase in people looking for services related to both domestic and elder abuse.

“We have 13 communities that sit in our regional coalition and all are saying the same thing,” said Chair Alissa McDonald.

“They are all definitely seeing more clients coming in and asking for services around what would a healthy relationship look like? Am I in an unhealthy relationship? What do I do? What are my next steps?”

Currently, the coalition is working on a broad community action plan to look at each community’s strengths and gaps around services available for those suffering from abuse.

“We really see just from initial feedback that the gaps are definitely in our adult and senior populations,” McDonald said.

“There are good protocols put in place if you find out that a child is being abused, there’s a definite step you need to take. It’s not like that with adults and seniors and that needs to be our focus right now.”

Some of what they are seeing involving elders, McDonald explained, involves financial abuse.

“Lots of frequent withdraws out of bank accounts, the person doesn’t want to leave their house, when you ask them about family members they’re over protective in the way they talk about them. There’s a lot to look out for.”

For victims of domestic abuse, there are services out there, but not always in the smaller centres which can pose problems.

“If a client is in a small community and the services are in Red Deer and they have no vehicle, how do they get there?” McDonald asked.

Another barrier often faced by smaller communities is a lack of women’s shelters, which is the case in Lacombe.

“Red Deer is currently at capacity and when that happens we look at places like Camrose and Rocky Mountain House,” McDonald said.

“Then we’re taking them away from their supports. So if they’re living in Lacombe and we ship them off to Calgary because that’s where there’s room, now they don’t have a family or friend support system with them.”

Sometimes when that happens McDonald explained, people stop accessing the services.

One of the ways the coalition is taking steps to help smaller communities is by providing training to frontline service providers.

The coalition holds its annual conference each November, for those either looking to get involved or wanting to share ideas.