Alberta has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in Canada, and Calgary is no exception. In 2015, the Calgary Police Service received almost 19,000 domestic conflict calls and many more incidents go unreported. In fact, domestic violence is largely a hidden issue.

Domestic violence is also referred to as family violence or intimate partner violence. It is defined as the attempt, act or intent of someone within a relationship (dating, marital or live-in partner) to intimidate either by threat, or by the use of physical force on another person or property. Domestic violence includes physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, and sexual abuse – and it can range from subtle, coercive forms to violent physical abuse, including rape and homicide.

Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual and same-sex family relationships, and can involve violence against children.

For people who experience domestic violence, life can extremely hard – and escaping a violent situation is often even more difficult. In many cases, people stay in abusive relationships because they are afraid.

  • If they try to leave, the violence will get worse.
  • For women with children, they fear losing their kids or not being able to financially support themselves and their children.
  • If they leave, they will be ostracized by their family, friends and community.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, know that it is not your fault and you are not alone. Domestic violence is never OK – no one has the right to abuse you – ever.

Who is affected by domestic violence?

Domestic violence has no boundaries. It can affect anyone – from any socioeconomic and cultural background. However, there are some people who are at greater risk of being abused:

  • Women
  • Indigenous women and girls
  • Persons with disabilities
  • People who identify as LGBTQ
  • Seniors

In a recent report, one in three (11.6 million) Canadians said they had experienced domestic violence before they were 15 years old.

How to recognize domestic violence.

Domestic violence often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence. Although physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological scars can be even more damaging. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone.

Take the following quiz. If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.

Do you . . .

  • Feel afraid of your partner?
  • Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • Feel that you can’t do anything right?
  • Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner . . .

  • Humiliate, criticize or yell at you?
  • Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • Hurt you or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • Blame you for their abusive behavior?
  • Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • Act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • Try to control where you go or what you do?
  • Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • Constantly check up on you?

What you can do.

If you are worried about yourself or the wellbeing of someone you love, get help. Medical professionals (physicians, psychologists and counsellors) are trained to help you deal with your emotions, build self-esteem, and develop coping skills.

If you are in immediate danger, call 9.1.1.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the 24-hour Family Violence Helpline at 403.234.SAFE (7233).

If you have been sexually abused in an intimate relationship, call the 24-hour Sexual Violence Support and Information Line at 403.237.5888 or toll free at 1.877.237.5888.

To report domestic violence, contact the Calgary Police Service’s Non-Emergency Line at 403.266.1234.

For more information, check out these links:


The self-help resources on this website are not intended to be a substitute for therapy or professional advice. The information is intended to give people the opportunity to explore topics of interest or that pertain to them or someone they know – in private and in their own time. While all attempts have been made to verify the information, we do not assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter. If you need to talk to someone, call our Engagement Team at 403.233.2360 or send us an email at