Read frequently asked questions about the Changing PathWays groups and to questions about family violence.
FAQ about Changing PathWays Groups
Can I attend group voluntarily?
Yes. Many clients choose to register for group because they want to change their behaviour and accept responsibility for the decisions they make.
How often are groups offered?
There are several groups running at any given time. Groups are offered on weekday evenings, and Saturdays. A new group starts every few weeks. There is a high demand for these groups, so there may be a wait time between being interviewed and the group starting.
How do I register for the group?
Call 780-439-4635 ext 100, and if your call goes to voicemail, leave a detailed message with your name, phone number, and the best time of day to call. Calls are returned throughout the day, so make sure you leave a number that you can be reached at during the day. Please speak slowly and clearly so we can record the number properly.
The intake person will return your call to book an appointment with you to do a 45-minute telephone interview.
We need the following information before you can be interviewed:
- If you are on probation, we will need your probation officer’s name and phone number.
- If you are referred by Children and Youth Services, we will need your worker’s name and phone number.
- In some cases, we will need you to fax us a copy of the police report and the recognizance order. For example, if you want to begin counselling before your court date, we will need a copy of these documents. You can get a copy of the police report at the clerk’s office on the 6th Floor of the Brownlee Building, 10365-97th Street. Changing Ways fax number is 780-432-3333.
During the interview you will be asked about your history of using abuse against your partner, your history of substance abuse, mental health concerns, and details about your relationship with your partner.
Men or women who are able to accept responsibility for their abusive behaviour and who show a willingness to make changes may be accepted into the next available group.
Are groups offered in the day or evening?
Phase I groups are offered on weekday evenings and some Saturday mornings.
Phase II groups are offered on Mondays from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
What if I have to miss some group sessions?
Each group builds on the learning of the last meeting so it is important that you attend every session. This program does not allow for any absences. In the event of an emergency, talk to your Facilitator to discuss your situation and to explore options.
Leave a message on the Edmonton Violence Prevention Centre voice mail at 780-439-4635 ext 101 as soon as possible. It is NOT possible to reach the counsellor by phone the day of your session.
Do you tell my partner what I say in group?
We will phone your partner (or ex-partner) while you are attending Changing PathWays, but we will not be sharing your personal information. The only information we share with your partner is your attendance. We phone to offer information and referrals so he/she can get support while you are getting help too.
If at any time during your involvement with the group there is concern for the immediate safety of yourself, your partner, children, or others, we are required by law to take whatever steps EVPC deems necessary to keep everyone safe.
If I am mandated to attend, am I automatically accepted into group?
No. You are only accepted into group if, during the interview, we believe you are ready to accept responsibility for your abuse and willing to change your behaviour. Being absolutely honest about the events that unfolded and the choices you made is very important.
How much does the group cost?
There is no fee to attend groups.
FAQ about Family Violence
What is Abuse?
Abuse can take many forms, but its purpose is to gain power and control over another person. Abuse may occur in heterosexual relationships or in same-sex relationships. The abusive partner in a relationship could be the man or the woman.
Physical abuse may include slapping, punching, kicking, pushing, and strangling.
Emotional abuse may include name-calling, put downs, and blaming. People who use abuse often isolate their partners. They often don’t allow them to contact family or friends, and they may not allow their partner to work outside the home. They may threaten to harm their partner’s friends, family, or pets as another means of exerting control.
Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual acts, exposure to sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or forced exposure to pornography.
Financial abuse involves controlling a partner’s access to money, putting things of value (such as property or cars) in their own name but putting bills (such as rent or utilities) in their partner’s name.
Stalking includes following a person, checking their phone or computer history, calling them at work many times a day, or having any unwanted contact such as leaving gifts or love notes.
The person who uses abuse may choose to stop the abuse for a period of time and then will start again. Usually the abuse becomes more frequent and more severe over time. Being drunk, high, angry, or stressed does not cause or excuse abusive behaviour.
ABUSE IS A CHOICE, NOT A LOSS OF CONTROL
Am I Abusive?
If you feel the need to control your partner and use any of the behaviours described under “What is abuse?”, you are abusive.
Anger, intense jealousy, and the attitude that your partner deserves the abuse, that it is his or her fault, are also signs that you need help to stop what you’re doing and build a healthier relationship.
If you think you may need help, you can call the Provincial Family Violence Information Line at 310-1818 from anywhere in Alberta. In Edmonton, you can call Changing Ways at 780-439-4635 or the 211 information line for counselling referrals.
Am I Abused?
Abuse can take many forms and usually changes over time, happening more frequently, and becoming more physical.
The person who uses abusive behaviour does so to feel powerful and have control over you. He or she may blame you for the physical or emotional assaults inflicted upon you.
Over time, the abusive behaviour often seems “normal” because it happens so often.
If you recognize any of the physical, emotional, sexual, or financial abuse described under “What is Abuse?” you may want to get more information about your options.
You can call the Provincial Family Violence Information Line at 310-1818 from anywhere in Alberta. In Edmonton, you can also call the 211 information line for referrals to community resources.
How does the abuse in our home affect the children?
Children of all ages are impacted by family violence. Their need for security, consistency, and routines cannot adequately be met in an abusive environment.
There is always a risk of injuries, birth defects, premature birth, or death to the fetus when a pregnant woman is physically assaulted. But the unborn child can be affected even when the abuse is not physical, because the mother also releases stress hormones when she is verbally and emotionally abused. Research shows that brain development may be altered by exposure to the stress hormones. The fetus can hear sounds of anger and conflict and can also experience stress. Developmental delays and nervous system disorders are also possible.
The tension in an abusive relationship may impair the infant’s ability to bond with his or her parents. Loud, angry noises (yelling, slamming doors) are frightening to infants and they may feel insecure and anxious. The anxiety felt by the infant may result in poor feeding and sleeping patterns and impact the infant’s health and physical development.
Fear and anxiety may prevent toddlers from exploring their surroundings and expressing their natural sense of curiosity at this stage of development. They may start to fear making mistakes in case it causes trouble between the parents. They imitate what they see and hear and may act out the abusive behaviour toward people and animals in their play. Their ability to learn may be impaired and their physical and social development will be slower.
The tension at home can affect children’s self-esteem and their ability to concentrate and learn. They may have trouble making friends, and they may get in trouble for using the aggressive behaviours they see at home.
Often one child, usually the oldest, will parent the other children in terms of daily care such as making sure they eat and are properly dressed. This child may also take care of the abused parent and take on responsibility for cooking and cleaning.
Children learn gender roles by watching their parents. In a home where abuse occurs, the children are likely to assume these roles as they grow up. The cycle of violence is passed from one generation to the next unless one or both parents get help to stop it.
Adolescents may not develop the skills they need to resolve conflict in a calm, non-violent way. They may use violence, drugs, or suicide to cope with the problems at home. They may try to escape the problems by running away from home. This puts them at risk of being lured into gangs or prostitution. Adolescents may also be injured if they physically try to stop the abuse. Their dating relationships may begin at a young age and they may act out the abusive patterns of their parents.
At any age, children are affected in negative ways by an abusive home environment. Their physical, emotional, and social development is impacted. They are also at risk of being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused. The Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act of Alberta considers exposure to family violence as emotional injury of children.
Family violence hurts everyone. Learn what to do so you and your children can be safer.
How can I help someone who is abused?
It is very hard to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship.
You can help by being patient and offering to connect the abused person to resources in the community. You can let that person know that he or she does not deserve the abuse and that help is available.
Pressuring someone to leave is usually not helpful. By pressuring an abused person to leave, you are exerting power over him or her just as the abusive partner does. Leaving can be a very dangerous time, and it requires careful planning.
By putting down the abusive partner, you may cause the person who is abused to defend that partner and possibly pull away from any support you try to offer.
Your own safety is also important and you do not want to put yourself or your family in danger. By connecting the abused person to resources in the community, you are assuring him or her, “You are not alone.” Help is available by calling the Provincial Family Violence Information Line at 310-1818 from anywhere in Alberta. In Edmonton, call 211 for information about services.
If a woman is being abused by her husband, why doesn’t she just leave?
Leaving someone who abuses you can be very complicated.
This is the person she fell in love with. She may have started a home with him, had children, shared her life with him in many ways. The abused woman may have become financially dependent on him and feel she has no option but to stay.
Being abused robs people of their self-esteem and confidence. The woman may believe she cannot cope without this man.
Women often believe they must stay for the children. Sometimes women fear they will lose their children.
An immigrant woman may believe she will be deported if she leaves her partner.
Accurate information and support are important in helping her decide what is best for her and her children. The Provincial Family Violence Information Line, 310-1818, is available from anywhere in Alberta. In Edmonton, call 211 for information about services.
What if the woman is abusive too?
Research shows that women are most likely to be the abused person; however, we know that women can be abusive to their partners as well. Just like men, women sometimes seek power and control by using abuse. It is important for her to get help to change how she deals with her relationship. Her partner may also want support. The Provincial Family Violence Information Line, 310-1818, is available from anywhere in Alberta. In Edmonton, call 211 for information about services.
Some women have learned to be abusive in reaction to having been abused. If her partner is attending Changing Ways, it may be helpful for her to get counselling at the same time so they can work on their communication together.
She can get referrals to supports in the community by calling our Partner Services at 780-439-4635 ext 101.
What if the police are called?
Police respond to calls based on urgency. When someone calls the police it is important that clear and accurate information is given about what is occurring, where it is occurring and who is involved.
When the police arrive they will attend to safety concerns first, then to medical needs.
If both people are present, police will want to interview them and any witnesses to the violence.
Police officers will check for the presence of weapons, previous complaints at that location, criminal history and any outstanding warrants.
Only the investigating police officers can lay charges for assault or other crimes.
The officers’ decisions are based on the evidence they find at the scene. If charges are laid, the Crown Prosecutor is the only person who can have the charges dropped.
If a person is charged with assault, the police remove him or her from the home. Conditions are usually placed upon the person charged so that the person cannot return to the home or have contact with the victim of the assault. These conditions must be met until the case is heard in court or a judge changes the conditions.
The police take the person charged to a bail hearing where the Justice of the Peace decides whether the person will be released with conditions imposed, or sent to the Remand Centre until his or her first court appearance.
Police may refer men accused of spousal abuse to Men’s Alternative Temporary Housing and Supports (MATHS).
The police may offer to escort an abused woman to a shelter if needed.
When a person is eventually released, efforts will be made to contact the victim to make them aware the accused will be released.
Children and Youth Services are usually contacted when children are exposed to the abuse.
Sources used for answers to FAQs about abuse: