Does Someone You know Need Help?

Understanding Domestic Violence

It can be difficult to understand why someone would be reluctant to do something about their abusive situation. There are many reasons why women stay. Here is how you can understand and help someone you know who needs help.

Why do women stay in abusive relationships?

Women try to leave an average of six to seven times before making the final move away from an abusive relationship. The reasons why women stay in, or return to, an abusive environment, include:

  • Fear of reprisal.
  • Reluctance to break up the family.
  • Concern about childrens welfare and/or losing custody.
  • Lack of money, job skills and/or opportunities.
  • Concern about pets, property, possessions.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Cultural, religious beliefs.
  • Pressure from family, friends.
  • Feelings of shame and embarrassment.
  • Believe abusers promises to change.

Why dont more women report cases of assault to the police?

Victims may not report assault for several reasons including:

  • Fear of retaliation.
  • Lack of knowledge about legal rights.
  • Concern that they wont be believed.
  • Belief in abuser;s promises to change.
  • Feelings of intimidation about the criminal justice system.
  • Worries that the police or courts will not adequately protect them.

You Can Help End Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is everyones problem. It hurts. It kills. You can help end the violence against our mothers, daughters, sisters, co-workers and friends. Learn more about the issue by exploring the resources on this website and others. Speak up and start the conversation about domestic violence and its devastating consequences. Raise awareness by encouraging your doctor, lawyer or other service providers to download and distribute My Friends House brochure.


Safety Planning

Having a safety plan can be a way to increase your own as well as your children’s safety if there is a risk that you could experience abuse.

You do not have control over your abuser’s violence, but you can map out action steps to increase your safety and prepare in advance for the possibility of future violence/ harassment. Our support counsellors can offer information, ideas and suggestions for a woman to think about. They will encourage a woman to take it a step at a time and start with ideas that seem realistic and right for her.

REMEMBER that many women have escaped and survived abusive situations.

Our support counsellors will help a woman keep in mind that it is important to review and/or update her safety plan regularly, because abusive situations and risks can change very quickly. Safety plans can be developed for many different situations. Our support counsellors are trained to help women identify their own personal safety plan needs. Here are some suggestions to consider about:

Planning to leave

If you can, bring what you use every day:

  • An extra set of keys for the apartment or house and vehicle
  • Small bills and change for taxis and telephone calls
  • Identification papers (or copies) for yourself and your children: passport, social insurance card, birth certificates, immigration papers, citizenship card, aboriginal status card, driver’s licence and registration, health cards and children’s immunization records
  • Divorce and custody papers
  • Restraining orders, peace bonds, any other court orders
  • Bank books, cheque book, credit cards, mortgage or loan papers (or copies)
  • Lease/rental agreement, property deed, business or partnership agreements, rent or mortgage payment receipts
  • Address book
  • Photograph of your abuser to help identify him/her
  • Clothing for yourself and your children
  • Medications
  • Cell phone/laptop
  • Infant or car seat
  • Favourite toy/blanket
  • A list of other items you can pick up later

Leaving in a Hurry

  • Establish a code word with the children to let them know you are in danger and to contact police immediately and protect themselves during a violent incident.
  • Plan an escape route and avoid places where weapons such as knives or guns are kept.
  • Have a small bag with essentials kept with a person you trust, away from your home.

Safety at Home

If you are living with your abusive partner:

  • Get your Emergency Escape Plan in order and review it often.
  • Create a list of telephone numbers including local police, nearest women’s shelter, Assaulted Women’s Help Line, family members, friends, counsellors, children’s friends, etc.
  • Make arrangements with friends or family so that you can stay with them if necessary.
  • If you have call display on your phone, be careful about who can access stored numbers (such as the last number you dialed or received a call from).
  • Consider a plan for the safety and wellbeing of your pet(s) such as making arrangements with friends or family.

If you are not living with your abusive partner:

  • Instruct your family and friends not to tell anyone where you are or how to contact you.
  • Change the locks on the doors, windows, garage and mailbox.
  • Install a peephole in the door that your children can see through as well. If possible, install an alarm system.
  • Keep doors and windows locked at all times.
  • Have a pre-recorded anonymous message on your telephone answering service rather than your own voice and do not identify yourself by name.
  • Carry a cell phone and a personal alarm.
  • If your partner violates the protection order or is threatening you in any way, immediately call the police to report the violation.
  • Make sure that the school, day care, and police have a copy of all court orders, including restraining orders, custody and access orders, as well as a picture of the abusive partner.
  • Request the police to put a “premise history” on your address on file. This will provide additional information and security for officers responding to your call and alert them.
  • Tell your neighbours that you would like them to call the police if they hear a fight or screaming in your home.

Safety at Work

  • Tell your boss/colleague of your situation, ask that they refrain from giving anyone personal information about you, and show them a picture of your abuser.
  • Use your voicemail to screen calls or request that calls from your ex-partner are screened.
  • Request that emails are blocked.
  • Enter and leave work with a colleague.
  • Let someone know when you’ll be home and when to expect you to arrive at work, and that you will call them when you have safely arrived.
  • If you are walking, take a route that is populated and well-lit.
  • Carry your car keys in your hand and be aware of your surroundings.
  • If your partner is following you, drive to the police station.

Online Safety

  • Create strong, safe passwords
  • When using the computer, be aware that your abuser may track the websites you have visited. For information on staying safe on the internet go here to (http://www.women.gov.on.ca/owd/english/about/tracks.shtml)
  • Do not share personal information.
  • Block unwanted people from online social networking
  • Take measures to avoid identity theft.
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