Each day Kristi MacKay heads to work, she can count on visiting a house of hurt.
The constable with the Charlottetown Police Services responds to at least one domestic call each shift.
Of course, the physical harm is often quite visible. The emotional impact too can be as plain as day.
The heaviest toll, though, can be on a family as a whole with children at times living in what the officer describes as a "toxic situation".
MacKay says she wants to convey to women in abusive relationships that they are not alone and they can seek a more peaceful life. She informs them of help that exists and will gladly take them to a safe place.
“We have pamphlets and brochures that we carry on our person that we hand out or take them there,’’ she said.
“They do respond to that very happily at times and other times they aren’t so sure.’’
MacKay concedes to feeling frustration at responding to repeat domestic calls that involve the same parties. Still, on the positive side, police do respond each time a call for help is made.
“And every time that we do go and that we can help even in a small way and put in a little bit of advice, it seems to effect and help,’’ she said.
“So for us when they can call us and we can help them it’s a rewarding experience.’’
MacKay, who has been a police officer for four years, is careful not to let the collective baggage of the domestic calls she answers weigh too heavily on her.
“You have to remember that this is a career,’’ she said. “You have to put it past you and not take it home.’’
On Wednesday, MacKay led a quiet crusade against family violence.
She was behind the wheel of a police cruiser that moved slowly through the streets of Charlottetown in front of men and women, many sporting purple ribbons, walking in unison from Province House to Charlottetown City Hall on the fourth annual Walk in Silence for Victims of Family Violence.
The walk, heralded as a stand against family violence and a show of support for neighbours, friends and family members who experience abuse, drew a procession that included Dr. Philip Smith, chair of the Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence, and Premier Robert Ghiz.
Ghiz said all Islanders have an important role to play in family violence prevention.
“We have a long tradition of Islanders helping each other through difficult times,’’ he said.
“I encourage all Islanders to learn the warning signs and learn what they can do to help someone who is experiencing family violence and where to get help if someone’s behaviour is abusive.’’
For information on family violence prevention and resources, visit www.stopfamilyviolence.pe.ca or call 902-368-6712.