Direct Energy and Sagesse get REAL about Domestic Violence

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, domestic abuse rates in Alberta were among the highest they had been in a decade, with 1 in every 3 women facing intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

Now, experts warn that isolation, coupled with the stress of an economic downturn can worsen abusive relationships and expose many to an increased risk of violence.

Every Albertan has a role to play in ending domestic violence, especially at a time like this. That’s why Direct Energy and Direct Energy Regulated Services have partnered with Sagesse to promote its REAL Talk initiative.

Our goal is to help Sagesse bring the REAL Talk program to as many Albertans as possible in order to lessen the stigma that surrounds domestic violence.

The REAL Talk educational program focuses on:

Recognizing domestic violence,

Empathizing with the person impacted by the violence,

Asking them what they need, and

Listening without judgement.

Sagesse has adapted its REAL Talk workshops to be available online in order to respect social distancing. These webinars are available to anyone interested in learning how to recognize domestic violence, understand its impact, and develop comfort in responding to domestic violence disclosures.

This is important because 80% of people experiencing domestic violence tell someone in their social networks first, and a positive conversation is likely to lead to that person seeking further help. REAL Talk is a campaign focused on helping Albertans recognize signs of domestic violence, empathize around the issue, ask questions, listen to what people say they need and connect people to services and support.

Spike in Domestic Violence

With COVID-19 on the rise in Canada, health officials and governments have asked us to work together to flatten the curve—protecting ourselves, our friends, family, coworkers and the vulnerable by simply staying home. For most, this is the safest place imaginable. However, for those living with an abusive partner, it can be anything but.

Unfortunately, isolation and factors like changes in routine, increased tension or financial pressure can all contribute to a higher risk of domestic violence.

Agencies and shelters in Calgary and Edmonton expect that the stress associated with the pandemic and quarantining, combined with Alberta’s economic climate, will lead to increased rates of domestic violence across the province for an extended period of time.

This is a daunting fact, even without the limitations of social distancing. But, no matter the circumstances, help is still available to those in need. Thanks to Sagesse and other important organizations in Alberta, resources are available to anyone experiencing domestic violence or close to someone who might be.

REAL Talk

Almost everyone experiencing domestic violence will talk to someone in their social network first, and statistics show that a positive conversation is likely to lead that person to getting help. The goal of REAL Talk is to help break the cycle of domestic violence by providing Albertans with the understanding and tools to have safe conversations.

The Real Talk campaign is about all Albertans getting real and confronting domestic violence in our communities.

In addition to its helpful guide, REAL Talk is offered as a group training workshop. In order to comply with social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis, and keep its staff and participants safe, Sagesse has adapted its REAL Talk platform to be available online.

These workshops available to anyone interested in learning how to recognize domestic violence, understand its impact, and develop comfort in responding to domestic violence disclosures.

Direct Energy’s Involvement

Direct Energy is committed to supporting moms, women and families across the province. Chances are, we all know someone who has been impacted by domestic violence. Working to end it, requires working together.

Direct Energy has partnered with Sagesse on several programs to date, including the Safer Spaces Utility Pilot Program and now REAL Talk.

The Safer Spaces Utility Pilot Program was developed with Sagesse and the Government of Alberta to ensure Albertans leaving a domestic violence situation have the support to transition their utilities safely and with care. Under the Program, people experiencing domestic violence can confidentially and safely connect with our Customer Experience Team. These caring agents are all located in Alberta and have received REAL Talk training in order to provide the reassurance and support that is needed.

Our agents help survivors navigate what can be a complicated industry, protecting their identity while getting them set up for our service in their new home. We also eliminate the deposit and waiving any set-up, connection or reconnection fee, and ensure that survivors can’t be disconnected from utilities for at least a year, providing flexible payment plans in order to help alleviate any financial burden.

Finally, because we know how hard it can be to ask for help, we proactively check in on our Safer Spaces accounts.

We have seen the impact of REAL Talk training firsthand with our Customer Experience Team and Safer Spaces program and are currently expanding REAL Talk training to be available to all of our Alberta staff. We have hosted five REAL Talk training sessions in 2020 and encourage all organizations in Alberta to do the same.

Our goal is to help Sagesse bring the REAL Talk program to as many Albertans as possible in order to lessen the stigma that surrounds domestic violence and help build a society where it is safe for those experiencing domestic violence to share their story.

If you, your friends, family or workplace are interested in receiving REAL Talk training, please contact Sagesse to learn more.

Resources

If you, or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence contact:

Sagesse
403-234-7337 ext. 100
programs@sagesse.org

For 24 Hour Support:
CONNECT Family & Sexual Abuse Network
Domestic Violence: 1-866- 606-7233
Sexual Violence: 1-877- 237-5888

To learn more about Sagesse, its programs and how to get involved in the REAL Talk campaign please visit www.sagesse.org and www.realtalk.sagesse.org

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