An Alberta politician who gathered the courage to tell a painful story in the provincial legislature has drawn attention to domestic violence, just as a Calgary non-profit is trying to do the same with its new “heat map” of abusive incidents.

Maria Fitzpatrick, MLA for Lethbridge-East, spoke Monday in support of a law allowing victims of domestic violence to break their leases, by telling the story of her own violent nine-year long marriage, which ended with a gun on the back of her head.

“When I talked about having a gun at the back of my head, I could feel a gun at the back of my head,” she told CTV News Channel one day after her speech in Edmonton.

“I could feel him pulling the hammer back, and pulling the trigger and hearing the click when it hit, and him laughing hysterically because there were no bullets in the gun,” she said.

Fitzpatrick said she was unable to bring forward Bill 204 herself because her memories were too “raw,” but she gained the courage to speak up after a colleague tabled the proposal.

“I felt that I had to share my experience because I know that there are thousands of women across this country that are in this position right now,” she said. “Nobody should be in that position.”

On Tuesday, the Calgary non-profit group HomeFront, which works with domestic abuse victims after police have been called in, launched its new fundraising campaign by releasing a “heat map” of domestic assaults.

The map of pinpoints reports of domestic violence and proves the issue affects all corners of the city of 1.2-million people.

In fact, Calgary police respond to 18,000 calls about domestic conflict annually, and although not all are violent, statistics suggest assaults in general and assaults involving weapons are on the rise.

Kim Halliday is all too familiar with those statistics. Her sister Darcy Rae Elder was found strangled to death in 2008. Elder’s husband, who died that day after his vehicle crashed into a truck, is presumed to have been the killer.

Halliday encouraged victims to step forward.

“Any person who knows someone in a situation like this,” Halliday added, “needs to be supportive … to not push them away, and to help them get the resources they need.”

With a report from CTV Calgary’s Kathy Le