Inventory of Promising Practices
Follow-Up Program – Nova House Inc., MB
Abuse leaves emotional scars that may not be fully healed when a woman and her children leave a shelter or transition house. In response to these long-term needs, Nova House in Manitoba has introduced a Follow-Up pilot program to offer clients more in depth counselling and support services after they leave the shelter.
Nova House is a shelter for abused women and children in the Interlake Region of Manitoba. It provides temporary shelter, interim housing, counselling, support groups, and referral to community resources for women and their children.
“Women are less likely to return to an abusive partner when their reasons for returning are dealt with and resolved.” – Anna Pazdzierski, Executive Director of Nova House Inc.
24 Hour Crisis Line – Victoria Women’s Transition House, BC
In addition to the offering shelter, counselling and shelter services, VWTH offers a 24-Hour Crisis & Information Line. The VWTH Crisis Line is operated by professional staff and trained volunteers who are compassionate and non-judgmental. They provide information on resources in the community, help create safety plans for women at risk and help women make safe choices.
For 40 years, Victoria Women’s Transition House has been providing emergency shelter, counselling, supports and services to women, with and without children, fleeing domestic abuse. The shelter has 18 beds with women and their children able to stay for up to 30 days.
“I never knew a place like this existed. My partner always told me that there was nowhere for me to go. I was so isolated that I believed him. I did not know what a Crisis Line was; I had no idea that people were out there to help individuals like me. You guys saved my life!” – A previous VWTH client
Sonshine Children’s Centre – Sonshine Community Services, AB
The number one indicator that a person will grow up to be a perpetrator or victim of domestic violence is that he or she witnessed it as a child. The Children’s Centre is the first of its kind to offer an integrated program suited to meet the needs of children that have been exposed to family violence and other forms of trauma. Sonshine Children’s Centre’s focus is to prevent the cycle of violence from continuing by intervening early on in a child’s development.
Sonshine Community Services offers a full-year second-stage residential program for women and children after they leave emergency shelters, followed by six months of follow-up to help clients safely integrate back into their own place. They provide counselling services for all people, and fees are subsidized based on a client’s income.
“Children learn and heal through play. Kids need to be kids.” – Joy-Johnson Green, Executive Director of Sonshine Community Services
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Leave No Pet Behind – Ksan Transition House, BC
Ensuring safety for a beloved pet can be difficult for women in abusive situations. Ksan Transition House currently has an arrangement with the local animal shelter to board animals during their stay at the House, and they are now in the midst of renovations that will soon allow a woman’s pet(s) to accompany her to the transition house for the duration of her stay.
Ksan Society provides public educations and social programs, safe shelter, food and essentials to women and their children fleeing abuse. They also run the Stopping the Violence Outreach Program, providing individual and group emotional support for women who are or have experienced abuse in their lives.
“The Ksan Pets Program helps to remove one of the many barriers women face when deciding to seek safety: concern about the safety of family pet(s).” – Cheryl Grey, Transition House and Volunteer Program Coordinator, Ksan Transition House, BC
Safety at Home – Alison McAteer House, NWT
Since 2005, they have partnered with the RCMP to serve as 24/7 designates for Emergency Protection Orders (EPOs) across the Northwest Territories. EPOs are fast and flexible and they allow women to stay in their homes and have the abuser removed for a specified amount of time. This is another example of how women’s shelters make a difference outside of their own four walls.
Alison McAteer House is the only family violence shelter in Yellowknife, serving about 13 surrounding communities, offering 6 rooms with 12 beds for women and children fleeing abuse. It is a secure and anonymous place for women and their children to receive support while they are fleeing violence.
“The EPO’s are great as this allows women and children to stay at home in their surroundings.” – Debby Rybchinski, Program Manager at Alison McAteer House
Toll Free Crisis Line: 1-866-223-7775
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Third Party Reporting – Kaushee’s Place, YT
Kaushee’s Place now offers Third Party Reporting to victims of sexualized assault who are 19 or older and have made the informed decision not to report to RCMP. You can tell Kaushee’s Place what happened to you, and the RCMP can receive the name of the person who assaulted you and the details of what happened without knowing your name. The RCMP will not do an investigation, though they may get in touch with Kaushee’s Place in the future and Kaushee’s Place may follow up with you to see if you want to give more information. It will be your choice.
Kaushee’s Place, now known as the Yukon Women’s Transition Home, offers a safe home for women escaping violence, and a 24-hour crisis support line. A victim of sexualized assault doesn’t have to be staying at Kaushee’s Place to access Third Party Reporting, and it is available to both women and men.
“If you are not ready to report to the RCMP, you can give information about what happened and who assaulted you and that information can go to the RCMP without your name.” – Outreach Brochure from Kaushee’s Place, Yukon
Theatrical Awareness-Raising – Carrefour pour Elle, QC
“La Grenouille et le Chaudron” is a play written and directed by Catherine Papineau, a staff member at the Carrefour pour Elle transition house for women. It tells the stories of three women who have lived through intimate partner violence. The play was presented at the Théâtre de la Ville de Longueuil on Thursday, December 3rd 2015.
Carrefour pour Elle provides a 24/7 call service for women escaping violence, and hosts women and children in their shelter and provides one-on-one counselling to assess their psychological needs. Carrefour pour Elle’s goal is to equip women with the tools to recognize and protect themselves from violent behaviour they may encounter in the future.
“La Grenouille et le Chaudron” is a play written and directed by Catherine Papineau, a staff member at the Carrefour pour Elle transition house for women. It tells the stories of three women who have lived through intimate partner violence.
Northern Lights Girls Club – YWCA Agvvik Nunavut
Northern Lights Girls Club is an initiative in Iqualuit run by the YWCA Agvvik Nunavut, which encourages leadership and self-advocacy skills in grade 6, 7 and 8 girls of Nunavut. The program helps to increase self-esteem, communication, conflict resolution, critical thinking skills and an understanding to take action to prevent violence..
The shelters work to break the cycle of violence through outreach to youth. The YWCA also operates the 21-bed Qimaavik Transition House for women and their children from 13 communities who are fleeing violence.
“We believe that strengthening cultural identity and knowledge is a very important component of healing and empowerment for Inuit women who experience violence.” – Suny Jacob, Executive Director of YWCA Agvvik Nunavut Iqaluit, NU
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Building to Meet Women’s Needs – North East Outreach and Support Services, SK
There is a shortage of short-term and long-term beds for women fleeing violence and building independent violence-free lives. North East Outreach and Support Services (NEOSS) in Saskatchewan is currently in the process of building a new 16-bed safe shelter called House of Hope. It will be the first new shelter constructed in the province with government support since 1989.
They are also building a storage space for furniture items to help women start their new abuse-free lives, and are converting another building into 3-4 second stage housing units. About 90% of the necessary funding is secured and they are seeking the remaining funds through a Capital Campaign. NEOSS offers a 24-hour support line that offers supportive listening, information, and referrals for any crisis situation.
“There is a growing need for a shelter in northeast Saskatchewan to provide a place of safety for women making the transition to a life without violence.” – Louise Schweitzer, Executive Director of North East Outreach and Support Services, SK
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Getting to School Safely – L’Accueil Sainte-Famille, NB
Children’s education is often disrupted when they are in shelter because they can face risks from their mother’s abuser on the way to school. To protect the children they shelter, Accueil Ste-Famille in the Acadian Peninsula of New Brunswick will drive kids to their school even if it’s up to 45 minutes away. This is an example of the care that shelters and transition houses offer to the children they house, beyond safe beds, to provide a much-needed sense of security and predictability for young people who have been affected by abuse. “We don’t want them to have too many changes at once,” says the Executive Director Nadia Losier.
L’Accueil Sainte-Famille offers accommodation for women and children victims of domestic violence, as well as financial, medical, social and legal support. There is also emergency accommodation for pets at the shelter.
“L’Accueil Sainte-Famille représente pour moi l’amour, la joie, la sincérité, la paix et encore plus que mes simples mots.” – cliente de L’Accueil Sainte-Famille
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Teaching Respect Through Play – Leeside Transition House, NS
It is never too early to teach children about healthy relationships. Leeside Transition House in Nova Scotia has been offering 1 week day camps in the community since 2000. The Camp is an opportunity for children ages 5-11 to build on their communication and conflict resolution skills, enhance their self-esteem, learn more about healthy relationships and learn some basic age appropriate facts about family violence. Crafts, music, games, guest speakers are the heart of the camp experience.
Leeside Transition House offers safe shelter for abused women and their children with 24-staffing and a 24-hour crisis support telephone line. They provide space to meet other women and learn about the legal and social services systems, and a support group.
“The day camp program not only builds resiliency in the children who participate but it has helped to strengthen our collaborative relationships with our community partners and to raise public awareness about the shelter services.” – Marina Martens, Leeside Transition House Executive Director.
Toll Free Crisis Line: 1-800-565-3390
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Addressing and Preventing Bullying in Schools – Maison Hina, QC
The more that schools engage with bullying behaviour by focusing on the harm that violence causes to the victim, the more that victims and bystanders will be empowered to take action and speak out against violence. Shelter staff from Maison Hina of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec visit schools to offer training to staff and students about prevention and intervention against bullying in schools.
Maison Hina also offers safe shelter to women and children escaping violence.
“We chose this training because it teaches us the difference between childish conflict and relationships of force. And it works! Ever since, I no longer have every student conflict showing up at my office; I only address cases of bullying and I know how to handle them now.” – Caroline Lapierre, principal of Notre-Dame de Lourdes elementary school
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The Healing Power of Traditional Culture – Sage Seniors’ Safe House, AB
Traditional cultural practices can help abuse survivors to recover from trauma. The Traditional Teaching and Support Circle provides seniors in the Sage Seniors’ Safe House with weekly access to an Indigenous Cultural Helper in both group and one-one support sessions. The Indigenous Cultural Helper is at the same life stage as Sage clients and is a Registered Social Worker. She uses traditional ways of knowing and sharing combined with social work principles to support the healing and recovery of seniors who have experienced abuse.
Sage Seniors’ Safe House offers a safe space for seniors who have experienced abuse, and a 24-hour Seniors Abuse Helpline. During their stay at the Safe House, seniors will receive support and assistance in areas of their life that have been affected by abuse.
“I like Elsey’s group because it is casual and she knows the traditional ways. She is teaching me the Cree I forgot.” – Sage Seniors’ Safe House client
Toll Free Crisis Line: 780-454-8888
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Puppy Love – Maplegate House for Women, ON
Sometimes the best therapy is to cuddle with a friendly dog. Maplegate House for Women in Elliot Lake Ontario has an on-site dog named Hola who is receiving specialized training as a Therapy Pet, with support from Magic Paws of Elliot Lake. Hola is a Havanese, which is a small, friendly and hypoallergenic breed. On-site pet therapy has been shown to reduce residential conflict and lower stress for both residents and staff. Maplegate House for Women also offers on-site kennels so that women fleeing abuse can bring their pets with them in safety.
Maplegate House for Women also offers a safe, comfortable and secure facility for women and children, a wheelchair accessible building, a 24-hour shelter and crisis line, and short-term crisis and abuse counselling. Maplegate Transitional Support helps clients find safe and independent living arrangements and provide confidential crisis and abuse counseling.
“Hi. My name is Hola! I am learning to greet staff and some residents (who feel safe with pets) at the door and cuddle with women when they want company.” – Hola the Therapy Dog
A One-Stop Shop for Women Leaving Violence – Sandgate Women’s Shelter, ON
For women who have been impacted by domestic violence, navigating the many services they need may be a challenge. In 2013, Sandgate Women’s Centre partnered with the York Regional Police and the Children’s Aid Society to create a service hub for violence against women called the York Region Centre for Community Safety. The YRCCS provides seamless support between criminal justice, health and social service agencies to individuals experiencing domestic violence and their witnessing children all in one location so victims do not have to retell their experience or travel to multiple sites.