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Alberta domestic assault survivors urge women to take advantage of Clare's Law

Last Updated Jul 27, 2021 at 8:45 pm MDT

CALGARY – Survivors of domestic violence say Clare’s Law would’ve saved them from physical and emotional trauma had it been passed before they got into a relationship with their abusers.

Clare’s Law, which came into effect in April, allows Albertans to find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence, harassment, and other relevant acts.

Calgary police say since the law came into effect, they’ve had 39 applications, which they say is a “fairly substantial” number for the program and the city.

Tamara Cartwright-Poulits says had the law been in place sooner, it would have saved her from 13 years of domestic violence, including an attack that left this scar on her forehead, and the trauma she and her children endured.

READ MORE: Clare’s Law in effect in Alberta as of April 1

She hopes women will take advantage of the recently-passed law.

“I think it’s going to be beneficial for some women, but my fear is: who goes and asks for a background check when they first meet somebody? So, the awareness needs to be brought forward,” she said.

Survivors say once you get into the relationship, it’s hard to get out.

“My ex has had quite the violent history and I think to be able to see it for myself and not just hear it through others, and get the truth would have really helped me,” said Simonne, who also suffered in an abusive relationship.

“It probably would have woken me up to leave, whereas I stayed with him for eight years.”

RELATED: Domestic violence survivor speaks out following gruesome assault

Albertans can apply for information about their partner on the province’s website. They can also apply for information on behalf of someone else if they have the consent of the person they feel is at risk.

The request will then go to the relevant agency, and those deemed at moderate or high risk will be contacted for an in-person interview. Low and unknown risk cases will receive a phone call.

Detective David Keagan of CPS’s Family Violence Unit says in every case he’s done so far, the at-risk person has gotten continued support from their partner agency, Sagesse, a group working to end cycles of domestic violence.

As for Simonne and Cartwright-Poulits, they are both doing a lot better now.

“It isn’t easy to leave but it is possible. I suggest you do it. Just get yourself into counselling right away. There’s a lot of good resources out there that you can use,” said Simonne.

“Nobody wants to run to social services. Nobody wants to admit it and I think we need to take the stigma off,” said Cartwright-Poulits.