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Recognize gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence, and find out how to get help, and how to plan for your own or someone else's safety.
Find Help
If you fear for your immediate safety, have been injured or are thinking about harming yourself:
  • Call 911 (if available in your community) or your local police station
  • Go to a hospital emergency unit
  • Call VictimLink 1-800-563-0808 VictimLINK is a province-wide 24-hour telephone help line for victims of family and sexual violence, and all other crimes.
  • Call the Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

A free and confidential, 24-hour distress line providing immediate, non-judgmental support and community resources

Anti-Violence Services and/or Transition Houses     in BC

The Ending Violence Association of BC - Find a Service

The BC Society of Transition Houses- Directory of Services

Resources in the Lower Mainland

Women Against Violence Against Women   604-255-6344 or Toll-Free 1-877-392-7583 

WAVAW offers several different ways to access support (24-hour Crisis line, Counselling, Support Groups, Advocacy), with the following common goals: to emotionally support and empower women; to facilitate a survivor's understanding of the emotional and psychological impact of the trauma resulting from abusive or violent experiences; to explore current personal coping skills and strategies; to acknowledge women as self defined and self-identified; to listen, reflect and offer feedback in a non-judgmental way; to advocate and provide appropriate referrals, if necessary; to identify and acknowledge different oppressions and their impact on women's lives and experiences. 

Sheway  (604) 216-1699
Provides comprehensive health and social services to women who are either pregnant or parenting children less than 18 months old and who are experiencing current or previous issues with substance use.  Recognizes that the health of women and their children is linked to the conditions of their lives and their ability to influence these conditions.  Offers food and nutrition services, primary health care services, counselling services, healthy child development and advocacy. 

Chimo Crisis Centre (604) 279-7077
Offers a variety of programs and services including the Nova Transition House, information, emotional support, practical assistance, education, individual counselling, support groups, and advocacy for women and their children who are currently in or fleeing violence. 

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter (604) 872-8212
Offers a 24 hour Crisis Line and Safe Shelter for Battered Women.  Also provides a free legal clinic, support groups, advocacy, accompaniment and resources on various issues related to violence and feminism.

Atira Women's Resource Society    (604) 331-1407 A not-for-profit organization committed to the work of ending violence against women through providing direct service, as well as working to increase awareness of and education around the scope and impact on our communities of men's violence against women and children.  Some of the services include: housing (emergency shelters and second stage housing); support; health care for women who are pregnant or have young children and are using substances and/or have mental health diagnoses; and an Aboriginal Women's program.

Options South Asian Information and Crisis Line (Surrey) (604) 596-4321

Provides services to women who have experienced any type of abuse. The services provided are support, advocacy and information, court support, lifeskills, immigration issues.  Also have a Children Who Witness Abuse program.

Prideline  1-800- 566-1170 or 604 684-6869
Gay and Lesbian helpline.  The Prideline provides information on social and community events; tourist information; referrals to social service agencies, support groups, LGTB friendly doctors or therapists; and information on services offered at The Centre itself. In addition, The Prideline offers peer support services. 7 days per week from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Battered Women's Support Services (604) 687-1867
Battered Women's Support Services provides counselling and advocacy for women survivors of violence in relationships, childhood sexual abuse and adult sexual assault. We also provide education and training on violence against women and related issues.

Multicultural Family Support Services (604) 436-1025
Provides a safe and non-judgmental environment for women and their children in their own language and culture. Individual counselling is provided at the office, out of the office and over the phone. Also provides group counselling and support and counselling to women victims of sexual assault and to adult survivors of sexual abuse, emergency interventions and referrals to appropriate resources.

Multicultural Victim Support Services (604) 254-0244 Delivers multilingual, culturally sensitive support to victims of crime, whether or not the police/justice system are involved. Provides immigrants, refugees and newcomers of all backgrounds the following services: emotional support, general information, justice-related information, practical assistance and support, advocacy, accompaniment, referrals, and public education. 

S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Family Services (604) 683-1362  The S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Social Service Centre, located at the meeting point of downtown and Chinatown of Vancouver. It offers a comprehensive range of social and community services to help new immigrants and citizens overcome language and cultural barriers to become participating and contributing members of society.


Full list of shelters in British Columbia

Full list of shelters in Metro Vancouver

Some shelters have a switchboard open 24 hours a day but many others only have them open during the day. You can leave a message to let them know if and when they can call you back.  If you are leaving and afraid for your safety you can go to a hospital emergency department, contact the police or call a crisis line for help.


  • Kate Booth House: (604) 872-7774
  • Powell House: (604) 683-4933
  • Helping Spirit Lodge: (604) 872-6649 (for Aboriginal Women)
  • Shimai Transition House: (604) 581-9100 or 1-877-581-9100  (specialized for women who are both escaping violent relationships and who use drugs or alcohol)
  • Ama House: (604)542-5992  (for women 55 years and older)
  • Bridge Shelter: (604) 684-3542 24-hour Crisis Line

North Vancouver

  • Sage House: (604) 987-3374


  • Nova Transition House: (604) 270-4911


  • Marguerite Dixon House: (604) 298-3454


  • Evergreen House: (604) 584-3301
  • Virginia Sam: (604) 572-5116

White Rock

  • Atira Transition House: (604) 531-4430


  • Ishtar Transition House: (604) 530-9442


  • Ann Davis Transition House: (604) 792-3116
Partner Violence

Violence Against Women is a Health Issue

Know the facts

  • 50% of Canadian Women have experienced sexual or physical violence. 
  • Just over 1 in 4 Canadian Women (29%) have been assaulted by a spouse or partner.
  • In 8 out of 10 cases related to violence against a partner, the violence is directed towards women
  • From 1999 to 2004, it is estimated that over 100,000 women in BC experienced violence by a partner. That is an average of 20,000 women per year.
  • During that same timeframe, 4 out of 10 women reported that their children witnessed the abuse.
  • Research confirms that all types of abuse experienced by women seriously affect their physical, mental, and emotional health. Even after the abuse has stopped or women have left the relationship, the impact on their health continues.

Abuse is Complex

Abuse can occur in many ways. It can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. A partner may use many different ways to control or hurt you. If you are in an abusive relationship, it may affect your life, your health, and the choices you make for yourself and your family.
You may have tried many times to understand what is happening in your relationship and your feelings about it.  Many of our ideas about relationships come from our society. The idea that "it takes two to tango" suggests that both partners are equally responsible for what happens in a relationship. And while that may be true in many relationships, it is not the case when one person is abusive. 

You may have tried to find solutions to the problems in your relationship. Perhaps you asked your partner to go counselling or to learn about anger management. You may have read self help books, and tried to change yourself so you would be treated with respect.
You have probably tried many different things to stop the abuse, "fix" the relationship or avoid explosions. The truth is there is nothing that you can do to change your partner and their abusive tactics. Since  they are 100% responsible for the abuse, they are also 100% responsible for changing and ending the abuse. In fact, abusers are constantly changing the rules and their expectations as a way to maintain control over you. This tactic often keeps you off balance or feeling like you might be going 'crazy', because you never seem to get anything 'right'.
There are many kinds of abuse, and one type is not worse or better than another. All forms of abuse negatively impact one's health and well-being.  Your partner will find many ways to keep you working to "make things better" and to help them stay in control. These are some of the ways people abuse others - see if any of them are familiar:

  • Emotional Abuse: anything that is meant to make me feel bad about myself (e.g., teasing, telling me how to feel, acting jealous, making me feel guilty, blaming me for things, not showing any care or affection).
  • Mental Abuse: anything that is meant to make me wonder if I am "crazy" (e.g., watching me, stalking me, or threatening me and then saying he or she was "just joking").
  • Verbal Abuse: using words or a loud voice to make me feel afraid, put me down, or hurt me (e.g., calling me names, yelling or screaming at me, swearing at me, using sarcasm and hurtful "jokes").
  • Financial Abuse: anything that makes it hard for me to provide for myself or my children or takes away my ability to make choices about money (e.g., making me account for every penny, hiding money, spending money on him or herself when I need it, making me beg for money, leaving me with bills to pay, not paying child support).
  • Physical Abuse or threats: any unwanted physical contact or threat of physical contact (e.g., throwing things, pushing, shaking, hitting, slapping, punching, choking, or kicking me; using weapons to threaten me or my children; locking me out of the house).
  • Sexual Abuse: any unwanted sexual contact (e.g., making fun of me for saying no, threatening to have an affair, using my past against me, making me use pornography, forcing sex, criticizing how I look or dress).
  • Spiritual Abuse: anything that hurts me spiritually (e.g., making fun of my beliefs, using scripture against me, not letting me go to my religious services).
  • Social Abuse: anything that cuts me off from support or care (e.g. keeping me away from friends and family, controlling who I can spend my time with, monitoring car mileage or phone calls, not letting me work).
  • Using Children: anything that makes me afraid for my children or brings them into the abuse (e.g., putting me down in front of the children, using the children to make me do things, threatening to take the children away, not paying child support, abusing the children).
  • Cultural Abuse: using culture to control me (e.g., putting my culture down, forcing me to use his or her cultural practices, speaking his or her language to leave me out of conversations, not letting me learn English).

It is stressful and exhausting to cope with this everyday. This stress and fear affects women's health in many ways.

Abuse and Your Health

Your health can be affected by the dynamics of your relationship. Most relationships go through difficult times. The difference in an abusive relationship is that it is not "safe" for you to tell your partner their behaviour is not acceptable or to challenge their beliefs and actions. 

All forms of abuse can have severe and long-lasting health impacts, including:

  • headaches or migraines
  • nausea or dizziness
  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • muscle and body pain
  • substance use
  • taking lots of prescription drugs
  • pregnancy or fertility problems
  • depression or self-doubt
  • self-harm or suicidal feelings
  • isolation, fear or loneliness
  • loss of appetite or concerns around your eating habits
  • lack of control over reproductive health or decisions (unwanted pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted infections)
eadaches or migra
  • nausea or dizziness
  • anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • muscle and body pain
  • substance use
  • taking lots of prescription drugs
  • pregnancy or fertility problems
  • depression or self-doubt
  • self-harm or suicidal feelings
  • isolation, fear or loneliness
  • loss of appetite or concerns around your eating habits
  • lack of control over reproductive health or decisions (unwanted pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted infections)

The Cycle of Abuse

The abusive partner needs to be the person "in control" of the relationship and of you. There is a cycle of abuse. Hundreds of women have described this cycle as they shared stories about their own relationships. There are three phases of the cycle. These are the honeymoon phase, the tension phase and the explosion phase.

  • Manipulative Kindness or Honeymoon phase: In the beginning of the relationship, your partner is attentive, flattering, and romantic. This is a time of courtship. As the relationship progresses and abuse escalates, this may be a time of relief or he or she may make promises, apologize, or return to the romantic person you met when the relationship began.
  • Tension phase: Your partner may behave in different ways. He or she may be critical of you, of how you look or act, of your family or friends. You may get the "silent treatment" or he or she may yell, slam doors, or threaten you by words or body language. The abuser usually blames you for their behaviour. Or they may blame pressures of work or finances for the behaviour. Women find this phase intense and frightening because they do not know how to prevent or to "fix" it. Many women feel they are "walking on eggshells", trying to make the relationship work and reduce the tension or prevent the explosion that is coming.
  • Explosion phase: In the beginning of a relationship, your partner may slam a door, not call you, raise their voice, or ignore you. If you have been in the relationship for a while, it might include yelling, destroying things that are important to you, forced sex, physical attacks, and/or verbal and emotional attacks that leave you feeling emotionally devastated and exhausted.

After the explosion, your partner likely returns to the manipulative kindness/ honeymoon phase, apologizing or making promises that the behaviour will never happen again. He may simply return to more acceptable behaviour.
Theses phases are not always "neat", especially if you have been in the relationship for a long time. The tension phase may last longer than at the beginning of the relationship, and sometimes you may move back and forth between tension and explosion, skipping the manipulative kindness/ honeymoon phase completely. 
The manipulative kindness/ honeymoon phase encourages you to stay in the relationship because it gives you hope that things will improve. Your partner may make promises to do better and you want to believe them. This may trap you into hoping your partner will change and it may keep you trying hard to 'fix' the relationship.
Sometimes women hit their partners or begin a fight to provoke the explosion just to "get it over with" and to stop the tension. Often, women will fight back in self-defence. 
Your partner is 100% responsible for his behaviour and in control of all aspects of the cycle. Nothing you do will 'fix' it. They only use these tactics to hold onto their power. If your partner tried these tactics with work colleagues, a boss, friends, or strangers on the street, think of how those people would respond. He would have few friends, lose his job, and have difficulty going out in public.  He controls the cycle and he is responsible for it. You are not responsible for any of it.
Research has shown that the impact of violence on women's health adds up over her lifetime and affects her general health. It also has an impact on her health during pregnancy. 

Plan for Safety

Plan for your safety in different situations

You do not have control over your partner's abuse, but you have probably found many ways to keep you and your children safe. 

Using Your Computer

An abuser may have ways of tracking your activities on your home computer that are difficult to prevent.

Most web browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox keep a list of the most recent web sites and links that you have visited in a history file. You can look at your own history by clicking on the history button on your toolbar. If an abuser knows how to read your computer's history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), he or she may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the internet. 

It is possible to clear the cache and history files so that your computer doesn't keep a list of the sites you have visited. But you should be very cautious about doing this.

CAUTION: If your abuser is comfortable with computers, and sees that you have cleared all the cache and history files on your computer (including the sites they have visited), they could become suspicious or angry. If that is a possibility, it would be better for you to use a computer they cannot have access to - for example, at a library, a friend's house, or at work.

Email: if an abuser has access to your email account, they may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password they will not be able to guess. 

Protect Yourself

Taking all of the actions on this page may not prevent an abuser from discovering your email and internet activity. The safest way to find information on the internet is to go to a safer computer. 
Suggestions are: a local library, a friend's house or your workplace. Other safety suggestions: change your password often, do not pick obvious words or numbers for your password, and pick a combination of letters and numbers for your password. 

Taking care of yourself

  • Find information. Many hospital emergency rooms, health units, and some doctors offices have information about programs in your area which support women impacted by violence or abuse. These people can talk with you and answer your questions. They may also have information about other support services in your community.
  • Talk to someone you trust. You might have a good friend, co-worker or family member you can to talk with and who will listen to you. You might try to find a counsellor who can help you work through your thoughts, feelings and/or fears about your relationship. They can work with you to create a safety plan in case you need to leave quickly to keep you or your children safe.
  • Find ways to increase your safety. While you cannot always prevent a violent incident, knowing how to contact the women's shelter near you can help you to plan for your safety. Work with a women's advocate or a health provider to create a safety plan for yourself and your children.
  • If you feel you are in danger- leave. Contact the police through 911 or the operator. Call a friend you can trust to come and get you. Arrange to meet in a public area where your partner is less likely to follow you or hurt you.
  • Plan for your safety. Leaving is a very difficult decision to make. Many women leave several times to keep themselves safe. Taking time to think about and plan how to leave with your safety in mind is the most important part of planning.

Safety during a violent incident

These are some ideas to prepare for an event:

  • Keep your purse and car keys in a place that you can easily get to so you can leave quickly.
  • Teach your children to call the police on the phone.
  • Use a code word with your children or friends so they can call for help.
  • Practice getting out safely and quickly: what doors, windows, elevators, stairs or fire escapes can you use?
  • Decide where you will go if you need to leave home, even if you don't think you will need to leave.
  • Do you have a second place to go to if the first one doesn't work out?
  • If you think there will be an argument or a violent incident, avoid the bathroom, garage, kitchen or other places where there are weapons or where there is no access to an outside door.
  • Trust your own judgment and intuition. If you feel that the situation is very serious, you may decide to give your partner what he/she wants to calm the situation down. Do what you need to do to keep yourself safe until you are out of danger.
  • Tell neighbours you can trust about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear anything suspicious.

Safety when planning to leave

  • You must do careful planning before you leave. Your partner may try to strike back if he or she thinks you will leave and they are losing control of you.
  • Keep copies of important documents or keys, clothes, and money with a trusted friend or family member.
  • Open your own bank account so you have some money of your own. When you open it, remember not to use your home address or phone number or the bank statements may come to your home. Can you use a friend or family member's address?
  • Keep the number of a local domestic violence hotline with you or memorize it if it is not safe to keep it with you.
  • Try to have change for phone calls with you or easily reachable at all times. Remember if you use a calling card or credit card, the numbers you call will be on your telephone bill. If you need to keep your phone calls confidential, use coins or ask a friend if you can use their phone.
  • Talk to friends or family in advance and see if you can stay with them or if they can lend you money.
  • Review and rehearse your escape plan often to make sure you have planned the safest way to leave quickly. Practice it with your children. Talk to a domestic violence advocate or a friend and review the plan with them.
  • Always try to take your children with you when you leave.

Safety at home

If you are leaving an abusive relationship or staying in the home you lived in with your partner.

  • Change all locks on your doors and windows. Replace all wooden doors with metal/steel doors if you can afford them. Install extra locks, window bars, or poles to wedge against doors.
  • Teach your children how to use the phone to make a collect call to you in case your partner takes the children.
  • Tell people who look after your children (babysitters, daycare, school, etc) who has permission to pick your children up. Tell them that your partner is not allowed to pick them up.
  • Tell neighbours and friends that your partner is not living with you any more and if they see your partner  near your home to call the police immediately.

Staying safe at work or in the public

Only you can decide if, when, and what you will tell others about your situation. Friends, family and co-workers can help support you. Decide carefully which people you would like to invite to help you be safe at your workplace.

  • Tell your boss, security supervisor where you work, and anyone else that you think should know about your situation. Ask your co-workers to screen calls at work.
  • Take a different route to work, park in a different place, and try to meet up with a colleague to walk from your car to work.
  • Use different grocery stores and malls for shopping. Shop at different times than you did when you lived with your partner. Use a different bank, and bank at different times than before.

Safety with a Restraining Order

Many people will obey restraining orders, but you can never be sure if your partner will be one of these people. It is important to know that you may need to ask the police or the courts to enforce your restraining order. This is another way to keep as safe as possible.

  • Keep your restraining order with or near you. If you change purses, it is the first thing that should go in.
  • Give a copy of your order to the police department in the community where you work, where you might visit friends or family, and where you live. Let your employer, your minister, your closest friend and others close to you know that you have a restraining order in place.
  • Call the local domestic violence program if you have any problems with your order.
  • If your partner violates the order, call the police and report the violation. You may also call your lawyer or a domestic violence advocate for help. If the police do not help you, contact a domestic violence advocate in your area or your lawyer.
Things to take when you leave

The things on the left are the most important things to take with you. If you have time, take the other things or store them in one place outside of your home so if you need to leave in a hurry, you can grab them quickly.

Most Important

Less Important 

  • Identification for yourself
  • Children's birth certificates
  • Your birth certificate
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Money
  • ATM card/ check book
  • Credit cards
  • Keys-house, car, office
  • Medications
  • Children's favourite toy/blanket
  • School & Vaccination records
  • Income tax statements
  • Bank statements
  • Passport
  • Divorce papers
  • Medical records
  • Lease/house deeds
  • Address book
  • Pictures
  • Jewellery
  • Immigration papers
  • Work Permits
  • Income assistance information
  • Bank books

iCAN Plan 4 Safety  - A support tool for Canadians who are experiencing abuse from a current or ex-partner.This tool will help you to think about your situation, weigh your risk, and learn more about your options.
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