Mass lay-offs in the oil fields of Calgary may be to blame for a recent spike in domestic violence, according to a women’s support centre in the province.
"When perpetrators are unemployed or underemployed, rates of domestic violence go up,” says Andrea Silverstone, executive director of the Peer Support Services for Abused Women. “There's greater risk for the victim,” she added
Silverstone told CBC News that the centre has seen a shocking 40 per cent increase in cases of domestic violence this year, compared to last and many of the women, she says, do not fit the stereotype of the “typical” victim.
“It’s not supposed to happen to women like us – that’s the stereotype,” said one woman.
“We always had a good income, we had a beautiful home here in Calgary and, on the outside, it looked as though we had the perfect life,” she continued, before sharing a specific incident.
“We were on a plane to Chicago to go to a conference and he went into one of his rages and the stewardess asked if I wanted to move and then at the end of the flight she came to me and said; ‘Would you like the names of some shelters in Chicago that you can go to?’ and I could even really relate to what she was saying, I just said ‘No, of course not.”
Another woman, a former partner at a corporate communications firm, suffered at the hands of her engineer husband.
“I was so ashamed of the fact that I could be in this position. I know better, I’m well educated,” she said. “I would drive home in tears, terrified and people would drive past me not knowing.”
Executive director Silverstone says the current state of Calgary’s oilfields is only making matter worse.
“It’s going to get worse because of lay-offs and so one of the things that we’re expecting going forward as we see more lay-offs and we see the effects of the lay-offs is that the rates of up-scale violence is going to go up in Calgary,” she told CBC News.
“Women who experience up-scale domestic violence have a whole set of different barriers in accessing services that we don’t realize and we as an organization want to make sure that they can access our services,” she added.
Vancouver-based labour and employment law
yer Najeeb Hassan says HR managers should be prepared in case spousal abuse spills over into the workplace.