Our Story Why We Exist
Annie contacted Sagesse seeking support and connections to individuals with shared experiences of domestic violence. She had a medical condition that required ongoing support and assistance from her current caregiver, her husband, who was also her abuser. Annie was experiencing ongoing emotional abuse and felt powerless to leave the situation because of her complex medical needs.
Through our Peer Support Program, Annie was connected with a mentor who could provide ongoing support and connection. Annie and her mentor together were able to find community, medical and housing resources all while planning for her safety in and out of the relationship. While connecting with community resources, Annie and her mentor also worked through issues of identity and self-esteem and began planning for the emotional healing that Annie wanted to embark on once being through her moment of crisis.
Alongside support from Sagesse and her mentor, Annie was able to create and execute a safe exit plan for leaving her abusive husband. Now, she is within a safe, caring environment where her medical needs are being met, and she is able to continue working with her mentor on issues related to healing and processing the abuse she experienced. Annie and her mentor are also working on finding community resources to continue increasing her social inclusion. Annie says her relationship with Sagesse and her mentor have increased her self-esteem and allowed her to see the possibility of having safe, healthy relationships in her future.
*names have been changed for confidentiality.
Stories like this are why we exist.
Over 30 years ago Sagesse opened our doors when a group of women, including a crisis counsellor and a survivor, recognized a gap in services for women leaving first stage shelters. Over the years, we have expanded and adapted our programs and services to respond to the needs of the populations we serve, in Calgary and throughout Alberta.
Sagesse, formerly Peer Support Services for Abused Women, has been sharing in the journey of healing and self-discovery with women who have experienced domestic violence or are at risk of being abused. The literal translation of Sagesse is wisdom. Our agency encourages the wisdom to seek help, to support and connect, to share knowledge, to self-reflect, and to create space for healing, learning, and growth.
Our Impact What We Do
Sagesse is all about empowerment. We curate enviornments that empower people, organizations and communities to break the cycle of domestic violence. We believe that by working at both the individual and community level, we can affect the most change. We work with more than 30 partner agencies who help to deliver our programs. Our programs and services are provided in communities across Alberta, at no cost, and our programs are available to anyone who identifies as a woman, regardless of age, ability, race, religion or sexual orientation. While we are best known for our peer support services, the fact is we do much more than that.
Our programs and services include:
- Peer support groups and mentorship for women who have experienced domestic violence, are at risk of being abused, or women that have been involved in sex work.
- Domestic violence education and workshops to organizations about the experience of domestic violence within LGBTQ+ communities and informal support networks about how to recognize domestic violence, respond (based on the situation), and refer to the appropriate supports.
- Backbone organization for the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC); a collaborative community response to support individuals, families and societies to live free of domestic violence
In 2016, the Calgary Herald reported a 12.8% increase in domestic violence rates over the past year, resulting in a 30% increase in the number of clients seeking service at Sagesse. In Calgary, over a five year period, the rate of incidents has increased by 36%, the highest numbers seen since 2004.
Domestic violence by the numbers:
- 1.14 million: the number of Canadians who reported being either physically or sexually assaulted by a partner in the last five years. (Statistics Canada, Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile, 2010)
- 30 to 40: percentage of Canadian women who experience partner violence in their lifetime (Statistics Canada).
- 76: number of domestic violence incidents resulting in 117 deaths in Alberta between 2008 and 2014.
- 1 in 10: number of men who say it is OK to hit a woman if she makes him angry, according to a Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter study.
- $600 million: amount of money that domestic violence costs Albertans in basic health and non-health supports over a five-year period (Shift: the project to end domestic violence)
Our Programs How We Do It
For more than 30 years, we have shared the journey of healing, self-discovery and growth with individuals from across the province. Our programs are targeted at the micro and macro level, offering support to individuals, organizations and communities through the following intiatives:
Peer Groups & Mentorship:
Our peer support groups and one-on-one mentorship provides a safe and welcoming space where women are heard and supported – by other women with similar experiences. Our trained staff and volunteers mindfully facilitate a process of learning how to lead safe, healthy lives.
- Moving on with Mentors: This unique program offers individual support to women by connecting them with a peer mentor. Mentors are available to meet in person, by phone or email to discuss issues that are relevant to the participant’s current situation and experiences.
- Finding Our Voices: This six-week group program focuses on issues related to self-esteem. Participants discuss self-image, effective communication, shame, compassion and healthy relationships.
- Growth Circle: Growth Circle is a 14-week group program that delves into the experience of domestic violence. Topics range from understanding the effects of abuse, shame and compassion, to creating healthy support systems, building personal power and integrating new skills moving forward. We recommend participants complete the Finding Our Voices program prior to registering for Growth Circle.
- BElieve in YOU: BElieve in YOU is a 20-week group program targeted to address the intersection between domestic violence and sex trade workers. The program is offered to anyone who is involved, at risk of being involved or previously involved in sex trade work and identifies as female. We recognize that 85% of those involved in sex-trade work are also at a high risk of experiencing domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Education & Workshops
- Stand By Me: This two-hour workshop is available to anyone interested in learning how to recognize domestic violence, understanding its impact on an individual and the community, and developing comfort in responding to domestic violence disclosures, including providing appropriate support and referrals to services.
- Rainbow Ready: This capacity building program is aimed at providing service providers and community agencies the knowledge and skills to provide safe, inclusive service to LGBTQ* individuals experiencing domestic violence. The program includes an organizational audit, with examination of agency space, promotional documentation and guiding policies and procedures. It also includes a 1 day, specialized training workshop, designed to meet each agencies unique needs. The workshop is recognized by the Alberta College of Social Workers as a Category A workshop.
LGBTQ* is a term that is used to describe LGBTTIQQ2SA* communities. These terms include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, 2-spirited, asexual/allies. The asterisk denotes the diverse and ever evolving terminology utilized to define or describe LGBTQ* populations.
Backbone agency of Calgary Domestic Violence Collective
Creating and managing collective impact requires an organization and staff with a specific set of skills to serve as the backbone for the entire initiative. In 2016, Sagesse was given the mandate of backbone for CDVC. In this role, our job is to steward the creation of a vision and strategy for CDVC, mobilize funding, and advance policy.
For more information regarding the CDVC, visit www.cdvc.ca
Our Requests What You Can Do
If you would like to get involved, there are several ways to do so!
Without our volunteers, we wouldn't be able to run the impactful programming we have in place. Volunteers contribute invaluble time and compassion to our mission, while helping those in need to curate spaces to heal, learn and grow. Our volunteers report learning important transferable skills from their time with Sagesse. Click here to learn more
Sagesse is funded by grants and in-kind donations. If you are interested in donating, please click here to be taken to our Get Involved page. You can also view our audited financials here to see how our funding breaks down.