The town of Claresholm is home to a unique program for rural communities.
Rowan House Society is running the Safe at Home project, which helps those dealing with domestic abuse.
After launching nearly a year ago, Claresholm town council got an update on the program earlier this month.
Safe at Home program director Nara Fedozzi said the feedback so far has been positive. She added the location made it the right fit for the program.
“Claresholm is kind of a local, central location between two very busy and big cities, Lethbridge and Calgary,” Fedozzi said.
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She said several referrals have come from both of those cities.
The goal of the program is to help treat abusive behaviour. Fedozzi said the strategy is to remove the abuser from the house to address their behaviour while the impacted family members stay in their home.
“The program is up to a year, so we have three phases within our program when clients apply to come to our program,” she added. “There is an intake process, and we do a range of assessments.”
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Claresholm Mayor Chelsae Petrovic said the update was encouraging as the testimonials she has heard were all very positive. She said having the four-year pilot project, funded by the federal government, is a great resource for the community and anyone needing to have services like this available.
“To have it right here in our backyard and to be the first of its kind, and for us as a community to support it, it’s inspiring,” she added.
Petrovic said having programs like Safe at Home and making the community aware of ongoing issues are helping break down the stigma of domestic violence.
“I’m hoping (by) having this Safe at Home project within our community, we can be the frontrunners of, ‘Let’s talk about it. Let’s understand where it comes from,’” Petrovic said.
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Fedozzi said the focus is healing the family as a whole. At an off-site facility, participants receive education and support to address the root cause of their behaviours. Their partner and children stay in their home and work with the outreach team to ensure their safety.
The transitional housing portion, which is Phase 1, is a minimum of four weeks, with the possibility of extension depending on individual circumstances.
Phase 2 is 10 weeks, focusing on group sessions.
In the final phase, which is eight months, there are support-facilitated group sessions.
Fedozzi said so far, six clients have gone through the transitional home in Claresholm. There is also an online option that about 40 clients have accessed. The entire program is free.
For more information about the program or to sign up, you can call 403-468-2042 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call 911, the Family Violence Info Line at 310-1818, the Provincial Abuse Helpline 1-855-443-5722 or the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-387-5437.
Alberta Health Services has resources for getting through tough times.
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