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App connects domestic violence victims with dozens of support outlets

Last Updated Sep 4, 2019 at 2:39 pm MST

Connect Line is a web-based app that puts nearly 40 domestic violence and other support services at your fingertips. (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — With domestic violence calls continuing to rise around Calgary, it will now be easier for victims to find help.

Connect Line collects nearly 40 different local organizations that can be immediately contacted during a crisis.

“We went to 21,000 domestics in 2018,” said Calgary police Acting Staff Sergeant Travis Juska. “Which is two every hour, and many of the ones we attend are simply people looking for resources.”

Juska said the idea for the app came about two years ago thanks to four recruits who suggested an app would help improve access to domestic services.

They teamed up with a web developer and at a cost of $15,000 came up with the web-based app.

It includes several categories such as domestic violence, addiction and LGBTQ+ supports.

When you click on a category, it shows a list of different organizations you can contact.

“When you Google something you get thousands of results and can be challenging to access, so when we reached out to some of our stakeholders in testing, we found there was a need for immediate assistance,” Juska added.

Not only will it help victims, but it can also ease the strain on police.

At the same time, it’s expected calls to support centres will also increase.

“And they’re Googling and it is confusing out there, so I think having technology work for us is a good thing,” said Kim Ruse, Executive Director of the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. “We can track how people are finding us, and we’ll be able to monitor if people are actually using the app and if this is why they are calling us.”

Also, not only is the app intended for victims, as a wide range of people can find assistance.

“There’s also professional workers and there’s also police officers that we hope to be accessing it to find the resources that they need,” Juska said.

“I would hope that perpetrators actually also use it,” Ruse said. “The Connect Line is also for people who are looking for help to change their abusive behaviour. So, our counsellors are trained to help people that are looking to change that behaviour as well.”

While this will result in more calls to support services like the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter during times of tight funding, Ruse said they cannot cut back as the cases continue to rise.

“We have to be out there. We have to be connecting with people.”

Find more information at connectline.ca.