Violence against women intensifies with more chokings, more weapons: Calgary shelter

A Calgary service agency says it's seeing a disturbing jump in the number of women facing extremely dangerous situations.

The Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter says year-over-year, more women are reporting being choked and being threatened with weapons, based on a pool of about 400 people staying at the shelter or accessing counselling.

Executive director Kim Ruse says the number of women being choked has jumped 33 per cent, from 30 per cent of women last year, to 40 per cent this year.

"It's such a personal way of assaulting someone," Ruse said of choking.

"And even more so sometimes, than weapons. It's a power control tactic."


Threats with a weapon, like a knife, jumped about 25 per cent. Last year 20 per cent of respondents said they were threatened with a weapon, compared with 25 per cent this year.

Risks in general have gone up, Ruse says.

"What we are noticing is that the people looking for help now, the issues they are facing are more complex, so the danger assessment scores are higher. There is a higher level of risk than we have seen in the past."

Ian Wheeliker with the Alberta Council Of Women's Shelters says while province-wide data is still being collected, a preliminary analysis points to an trend in Calgary.

"So for me, it's not so much the level of violence is increasing ... but it's the intensity of the violence."

Wheeliker says more research is needed to get to the root of this increase.

Ruse says the economic situation in the province is one factor.

"Families are struggling more, so sometimes when dynamics change in finances [or other areas] things can really escalate," Ruse said.

"When families are facing other stressors, what might have been an issue before, becomes exacerbated."