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Women’s shelter group looking to prevent violence during Grey Cup week

The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters is using this week’s Grey Cup party to shine a light on domestic violence and sexual assault.

A University of Calgary study has shown that during certain Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders games, domestic violence rates rise as much as 15 per cent, according to the ACWS.

“When there are intense team rivalries or unexpected upsets, it’s correlated with an escalation of violence,” executive director Jan Reimer said. “So our focus is to make sure that doesn’t happen here.”

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Reimer said the ACWS is partnering with the Grey Cup as well as Edmonton restaurants and bars to ensure information about supports is widely available during the festival.

“There is no doubt there is a direct correlation between alcohol and sexual assault,” said Mary Jane James with the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.

“Major sporting events are fun, wonderfully popular and very exciting attractions; however, as fun as they are, statistics demonstrate they can lead to an increase in sexual violence, especially alcohol- and drug-facilitated sexual violence and most particularly against women.”

While the ACWS is encouraging bars and restaurants to make sure people who may need help can find it, they’re also encouraging people attending the festival to keep their eyes open for possible domestic or sexual violence happening around them.

But James said anyone witnessing violence doesn’t have to be a “hero.” She said simply addressing the situation, getting someone involved, de-escalating the situation or checking in with the person who has experienced the harm can go a long way.

“When in doubt, make sure to always prioritize and take guidance from the person experiencing harm.”

Bars and restaurants can contact the AWCS for Grey Cup information packets.

On Wednesday, the ACWS is hosting Breakfast with the Guys, which Reimer describes as an event to celebrate the “men who are changing the game by standing up to prevent violence, who lead from where they stand and who know their actions matter.”

Tickets are still available on the ACWS website.

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