What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is defined as physical violence, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, stalking and harassment between family members or persons in a relationship or related by virtue of children, marriage, or adoption. It can happen in heterosexual and same-sex relationships, and both men and women can be victims.
What are the warning signs of domestic violence?
In adults, the warning signs of domestic violence include:
- Personality changes (angry, moody, agitated etc.).
- Becoming withdrawn, closed, suddenly fearful or secretive.
- Difficulty sleeping or abnormally tired.
- Lower self-esteem, feeling negative about themselves.
- Neglecting personal hygiene or personal appearance.
- Physical signs of injuries like bruises, sores and cuts.
- Making excuses for injuries which seem implausible.
- Hiding injuries with excessive make-up, sunglasses, extra clothing.
- Appetite changes - weight loss or weight gain.
- Starting to use substances or increasing in substance use.
- Stops attending usual activities (church, gym, family and holiday gatherings).
In children, the warning signs of domestic violence include:
- Physical signs of injuries like bruises, sores or cuts.
- Unhappiness and withdrawal - may appear irritable and sad and withdraw from activities they once enjoyed.
- Regression - returns to an earlier stage in development, such as clinging to caregivers, thumb-sucking or bed wetting.
- Changes in school performance - positively or negatively - or suddenly seeking more approval by teachers.
- Anger, violence or bullying behaviour towards other children or animals.
- Difficulty sleeping, nightmares.
- Sexually acting out by using knowledge, language and behavior that is out of the scope of normal sexual development.
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and signs like frequent yeast or bladder infections; pregnancy in older children; difficulty sitting or walking; injury to genital areas; or child complaining of headaches and stomach aches without medical explanation.
If you see any of these signs of domestic violence, be there for the victim and listen, be non-judgmental, and help your friend or family member develop safety plans and contact resources.
Reporting domestic violence
If you or someone you know is involved in an emergency situation, please call 9-1-1 immediately. Otherwise, call the Police non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.
If you need to leave your home and need to return to get your belongings, Calgary Police Service can assist with what is called a domestic standby where you may remove your belongings.
Our investigators are responsible for following up the incident, interviewing the complainant and assessing the person's level of risk. We also help the complainant navigate the legal system and connect the victim with support services within the community. If the person is at risk, we may move victims to a shelter or provide safety planning and other options. If there is a concern for a child’s safety then the child may be temporarily taken out of the home until Child Family Services Authority deems the home to be a safe environment for the children to live in. The abuser may be taken out of the home on a court order and the victim of the abuse and the children stay in the home.
We also investigate all high-risk, habitual stalking offences, especially where there was a previous relationship.