Life after abuse: Resources for support

The effects of abuse can linger with a survivor for years after leaving an abusive relationship.

It can take up to five years for women who have experienced abuse to regain their self-esteem. Victims often report dealing with mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. 

The path to recovery can be difficult, but it can be easier with the right support system.

To uphold safety and ensure recovery in the future, there are many Ontario-based resources and support services for survivors.

Transitional housing 

It can be difficult to leave an abusive relationship if victims do not have any other accommodations.

To address this issue, there are many temporary housing accommodations for people who need to flee domestic violence.

Every night, more than 3,300 women end up at transitional houses or shelters due to unsafe environments at home.

These transitional housing centers provide a place of security and resources as clients plan their next steps.

Women In Crisis is a 24/7 shelter in Sault Ste. Marie. There are youth and child services available at the shelter as well as counselling.

Some women stay in an abusive household due to threats of harm made against their pets. Maplegate House for Women is a women’s shelter that also has a pet shelter. The centre is located in Mississauga and is also wheelchair accessible.

Seeking employment

Many women struggle to leave an abusive relationship due to financial instability. 

More than 1.5 million women in Canada are low income. One in five single mothers have low-paying jobs. 

If they leave their abusive partner, women with children are five times more likely to be poor than if they stay with their partner.

There are many organizations that provide financial support to abuse survivors.

YWCA Toronto provides free employment training and programs to those who have experienced domestic abuse.

 COSTI Immigrant Services hosts the Women of Courage program where survivors can earn certificates through training programs. This initiative is partnered with Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning and Yellow Brick Housing.

For survivors who are employed, going back to work after abuse can be a challenge.

54 percent of people who have experienced abuse miss at least three days of work per month. 

Job-protected leave is provided in Ontario for those who have experienced domestic or sexual violence. 

This allows survivors to take time off of work without the fear of losing their position. 

Safety planning

Abuse survivors may not feel safe even after successfully finding a new place to live. 

One way to improve physical and mental wellbeing is to map out a safety route.

Community Legal Education Ontario has a safety plan template with a to-do list and resources if a survivor and any dependents need to escape from a secure place in case of emergency.

The plan includes provincial and personal safety contacts and a checklist to ensure  children’s safety.

For a digital resource, survivors can download the myPlan Canada app

myPlan Canada assesses a person’s current state of safety based on their answers to a list of questions. It then creates a safety plan suited to the user’s present situation and environment. 

Women with children

Caring for more than one person can be difficult. It is also a leading reason why women have trouble leaving abusive relationships.

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, staying in toxic environments can negatively affect the children as those who witness abuse are more likely to become a victim or an abuser. 

Many resources across Ontario can provide single mothers with child and youth support. 

The Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre has group and individual counselling for children.

New Starts Women’s Shelters in Red Lake, Ont. has an in-house children’s program that provides safe space for children to share their experiences.

The program includes activities, crafts, and sports programs to help with development. 

Referrals to dentists and other medical agencies are also provided. 

The 10-week Mothers In Mind program is available in several cities including Hamilton, Windsor and Peterborough. The program aims to support mothers in managing stress as well as their children who have experienced abuse.

Mental health helplines

There are several Ontario-based helplines with live chats and phone lines available for crisis support.

From emotional support to safety planning, these phone lines can provide survivors with direct help or referrals.

Assaulted Women’s Helpline is a 24/7 anonymous phone line available anywhere in Ontario.

Talk4Healing is available for Indigenous women via text, chat and phone call. 

Survivors can also contact 211 Ontario for more area-specific resources.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact your local police or 911.

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