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The Stop Abuse in Families (SAiF) Society operates with a mandate to support, educate, and advocate for those who have experienced, witnessed, or perpetrated family violence. SAiF has grown to include a small clinical team of psychologists and social workers who provide: short-term counselling; referrals and supports; education programs to support healthy relationships; and a training ground for professions looking to build their understanding of domestic abuse and violence.
SAiF’s founder, Ireen Slater, found herself a single mom of four children and decided to go back to school to upgrade her skills in order to gain employment. Having been in an abusive relationship herself, and knowing what the support of friends, colleagues, a great counsellor meant in her life, she tried to find ways to support others in similar situations. She was encouraged to go back to school to do what she had a passion for: social work.
While attending a family violence conference, she reached out to a friend in the RCMP and suggested the need for a support group for those dealing with domestic abuse in St Albert.
Not long after that, the St Albert Interfaith Council put out a call for a working group to address domestic abuse. Ireen chaired the group that eventually became the Stop Abuse in Families (SAiF) Society, incorporated in 1989.
Ireen started building capacity right away, looking for professionals who could help with the work. Fundraising, finding volunteers to run programs, and raising awareness of domestic abuse was the immediate need. Beginning with support groups, teaching courses on family violence and abuse and eventually including youth programs as part of their core offerings, SAiF began to meet the needs of families trying to address issues related to abuse and to work towards healing. It became evident that prevention was equally as important to break the cycle of abuse and so an education coordinator was added to the team.