Online hub a ‘one stop shop’ for domestic violence help in Alberta

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A new online tool will help Albertans find resources on domestic violence, and researchers hope it can also answer questions to make it easier to access supports.

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A few clicks to the Domestic Violence Resource Center at hub.sagesse.org provides information on domestic violence, tailored to your answers to a few questions: if you or someone you know is experiencing violence, or if you are someone who fears that your own behavior has become abusive.

The hub is operated by Sagesse, a provincial family violence prevention organization, and is based on research conducted by Stephanie Montesanti, associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta.

Montesanti said while there are apps that can help with safety planning in domestic violence situations, the hub is a centralized digital resource, and that’s a first in Canada. Part of what drove the work was the turbulent shift to online media at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and heightened concerns about domestic violence as people had to stay home, potentially in situations abusive, without their normal ties to their place of work. and friends.

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The tool was developed over a year, including focus groups with violence prevention agencies and victims of domestic violence.

Montesanti said the hope is that the hub can be a “one-stop-shop” for credible domestic violence information and up-to-date resources. Sometimes old information from domestic violence prevention groups is still floating around the web with phone numbers that are no longer in use or programs that are discontinued – and that can be another roadblock to getting help. assistance.

“Survivors of domestic and sexual violence or those at risk are often overwhelmed with information available on the web when seeking help,” Montesanti said.

“Especially when they are going through a very traumatic experience such as violence or abuse, it is difficult to assess the credibility of this information and to know what resource they have the best access to.”

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The tool suggests programs to explore for direct support, but it also has links to articles, videos and audio recordings that cover topics such as why victims of domestic violence find it hard to leave, or how to recognize someone who may be experiencing domestic violence and what you can do to help. There is also specific information on abuse in LGBTQ communities, elder abuse, disability-related abuse, etc.

Montesanti said people working in support agencies can also use the tool to help connect their clients to the right resources. The website also uses artificial intelligence and is designed to get “smarter” the more it is used, and could also help researchers see the patterns that emerge when people use it to ask questions. ugly.

“We hope we can better identify information gaps … and we can make industry-specific recommendations and advice (domestic violence prevention) on how best to support clients,” Montesanti said.

“Survivors need this help and support urgently, and it takes time to make sense of the diversity of information.”

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