Assistance aux femmes

Frequently Asked Questions

We have answers to your questions.

Our services are free of charge and are Intended for women victims of domestic violence, accompanied by their children.

Our FAQ cover the following topics: finances, shelter, legal concerns, housing, child custody, immigration, police reports

Asking questions is your first step on the path to freedom

Am i a victim of domestic violence

If you are reading this, you have just taken the first step to get help. Women’s shelters offer different levels of support including providing information about domestic violence and related resources, 24/7 helpline , psychological support, help to build a safety plan, and temporary shelter if you require it.

Finance questions

Will I receive financial assistance ?

You will meet with a social worker  to discuss your situation, identify your needs, and determine which programs you are eligible for.
Social assistance, employment insurance, loans and bursaries, family allowances, etc.

What happens if I already have a bank account ?

Your social worker can help you navigate the process for securing your bank account, opening a new account and/or closing a joint account.
If you own valuable jewelry or have important legal documents, you may want to consider getting a safe deposit box at your bank.

Will I be able to work so I can have an income ?

Your counsellor can assist you in the process of having your foreign diploma recognized. If you decide to pursue your studies, you can also count on your counsellor to support you.
If you already have work experience, your counsellor can assist you in your job search by providing you with information on the job market, internships, salaries, etc.

Who will help me protect my assets ?

Your counsellor can help arrange a meeting with a lawyer who will guide you through the process of dividing the family patrimony (such as house, furniture, vehicles, savings, retirement funds, etc.) when you separate or divorce.

Questions about the shelter

What will I do during my stay ?

You will meet with a counsellor to identify your needs. She will guide and support you as you take steps to put an end to the domestic violence situation. You can also receive psychosocial support to address the impacts of this violence.
Visit the section Services for Women of our website for details.

How long is a stay at the shelter ?

The duration of a stay lasts from three to five weeks, but can vary according to the  needs. 
Our shelter can accommodate up to four families at a time.

What should I bring with me ?

View the Toolbox here

Are your services confidential ?

All our services, as well as our address, are confidential to ensure your safety.

During our stay, can my children continue to attend the same school ?

For safety reasons, it is necessary for your children to change schools for the duration of your stay. A social worker will help you with this procedure.

Will I be able to continue working during my stay?

For safety reasons, we encourage you to take a temporary leave of absence from your work. This will make you available to take care of formalities. Contact us for more information. 

Can my relatives or close friends visit me during my stay?

To guarantee the confidentiality of the shelter location, such visits are not allowed.

Am I required to stay in the shelter at all times?

No. Although we ask you to be available to take care of your procedures, you are free to go out and do your usual activities, as long as they do not compromise the safety of the shelter and the organization’s house rules.

I’m experiencing domestic violence, but I don’t want to go to a shelter. Can I meet with a counsellor ?

Yes. For additional information, visit our External Services 

I feel that my child has been affected by the domestic violence situation at home. Can he/she get help during my stay?

Yes. Our youth workers will pay special attention to the needs of your child. They will try to establish a meaningful connection with him/her to help him/her overcome the difficulties related to the situation at home.

Am i victim of domestic violence ?

Click here for more information. You can also contact us to talk to a counsellor. 

Are there activities for children and teens who stay at the shelter ?

Yes. Our youth workers plan activities with the children and teens who are at the shelter. In addition, a playroom, a backyard with play equipment, a television, and two computers with internet connection are available for the families.   

Will I have access to a private room for my family ?

Yes. Each family has access to a private room. The bathrooms, kitchen, living room, and playroom are shared areas.

Are your services provided in several languages ?

Yes. Our services are provided in French, English, and Spanish. In addition, when needed, we use interpreters.

What are the meal arrangements at the shelter ?

Every week, the women staying at the shelter draw up a grocery list. A shelter worker goes to the supermarket to buy the items on the list. Each resident must prepare meals for herself and her children and ensure that the kitchen is kept clean. Once a week, you may also be in charge of making a group meal. For women with specific food needs and/or intolerances, we provide food that meets their needs.

Legal questions

I am separated from my partner, but he harasses and threatens me. What can I do ?

When dealing with a situation like this, keep track of the date and details of the events if you are considering filing a police report. Keep any harassing emails that your spouse sends you. If the harassment is by phone, it is possible to record the calls and messages from your spouse. Do not hesitate to contact the police when your safety and the safety of your loved ones is at risk.

My ex-partner does not respect our child custody agreement. What can I do ?

Contact the lawyer in charge of your case to see what can be done, depending on your situation. If there are conditions in criminal court, do not hesitate to report your spouse’s actions to the police.

Do I need to file a complaint with the police when my partner is behaving violently ?

For your safety, it is preferable to file a complaint to put an end to the cycle of domestic violence. A complaint can also help you access some services for victims of domestic violence. However, filing a complaint is not mandatory. For different reasons, victims of domestic violence often do not want to file a complaint against their partner for various reason. However, be aware that the police can file a complaint if they deem that a crime has been committed (for example, hitting, visible injuries, death threats).

What are the grounds for investigating a complaint ?

The police can investigate a complaint on multiple grounds such as physical violence, sexual assault, death threats, theft, and breaking items. Note that even though psychological and verbal abuse are not recognized at the criminal level, if you feel  in danger, you can always call 9-1-1 to get help.

What happens if the police are alerted to a domestic violence incident ?

Regardless of whether it is you or a third party who calls the police during a domestic violence incident, you can expect the following steps to occur: The police will go to the location of the incident to meet with you and your partner individually to ask you questions. The police will ensure that you are safe, and in certain cases, the abuser may be detained. 
If the complaint is investigated, the abuser will be given a list of conditions when released from detention, which may include the following: staying away from the victim, not contacting the victim and her family, etc. 
Essentially, these conditions aim to protect the victim and, if another incident occurs, it will be easier to file a new complaint with the authorities because the new incident will be a breach of conditions.

Can I withdraw my complaint ?

Once a complaint has been filed and investigated, it will not be withdrawn even if you reconcile with your spouse or no longer want to file a complaint. The only person with the authority to withdraw a complaint is the Crown attorney. However, specific domestic violence policies prevent them from doing so in most cases. These policies exist throughout North America. They prevent the violent spouse from pressuring their partner to drop the complaint because she has no authority in the matter.
For a first criminal offence, the defence attorney may propose an out-of-court agreement known as a section 810 peace bond or an 810. With an 810, the partner is committed to maintain good behaviour and keep the peace, such as not possessing a weapon, staying away from, and out of contact with, the victims, etc.

What’s the difference between criminal court and civil court ?

If you must undertake procedures for the legal custody of your children, divorce, child support, or alimony, you will have to go to civil court. Criminal complaints for issues such as assault, robbery, and sexual assault, are handled in criminal court or a municipal court (in the case of an 810-peace bond). These two authorities are separate from one another. A criminal complaint will not automatically have an impact on a civil court matter. 
For more details, we recommend that you visit the  Éducaloi website

Who pays for the lawyer? Am I eligible for legal aid ?

For civil court, if you have little or no income, it is quite likely that you will be eligible for legal aid, which means that you will receive the services of a lawyer paid by a legal aid mandate. In this case, you will not have to pay for these services yourself. Click here to see the wage scales that determine your eligibility for legal aid.
For criminal court, crime victims do not have to pay for the costs of the proceedings and can be represented in court free of charge.

Questions related to housing

The lease is in my name and I am experiencing domestic violence. What can I do to terminate my lease ?

In this case, we strongly recommend that you speak with your landlord to let them know about your situation. There are special arrangement that apply to women in domestic violence situations. The following links give more information on the steps to take:
Sample termination notice templates for tenants
Terminating a lease due to domestic or sexual violence  (article)
Terminating a lease due to domestic or sexual violence (video)

Questions concerning child custody

What will happen regarding the legal custody of my children ?

To ensure your safety and that of your children, it is strongly recommended that you ask a judge to decide on the legal custody of the children. In a domestic violence situation, the parent who wants to leave the familial home with their children has the right to do so without the other parent’s permission before making an official request for a ruling on legal custody.

If I have no income, will my spouse get legal custody of the children ?

The legal decision related to child custody will be made based on the children’s best interests, without taking your personal income into account. In addition, during the legal process, an assessment will be made as to whether your partner should give you child support (and alimony for you). The amount is established based on your partner’s income and yours. Finally, you should be aware that you can receive social assistance benefits if you have no other personal income. 

Immigration questions

My spouse is threatening to send me back to my country if I leave him. Can he do that ?

In domestic violence situations, it is common for the abusive partner to use your immigration status to threaten or blackmail you. However, in most cases, these threats are unfounded. In fact, if you already have legal status in Canada, whether you’re a citizen, permanent resident, refugee claimant, or refugee, your spouse cannot decide to send you back to your country. If you don’t have legal status in Canada and you are experiencing a domestic violence situation, we recommend that you call us so that we can assess your situation to better advise you. 

I am a sponsored person. Can I lose my permanent residence if I leave my husband ?

A sponsored person who has permanent residence cannot lose it if they decide to leave their husband on grounds of domestic violence, even if the three-year conditional permanent residence applies.
However, you may have to prove that you are experiencing abuse or neglect (complaint filed with the police, police event numbers, witnesses, recordings, stays in women’s shelters, etc.) Please call us to tell us more about your situation so that we can better advise you.

If I am sponsored and have no income, can I lose custody of my children ?

The legal decision related to the custody of your children will be made based on their best interest, without taking your personal income into consideration. In addition, during the legal process, an assessment will be made as to whether your husband should pay child support and alimony, and the amounts will be determined according to his income. Finally, you should be aware that you can receive social assistance benefits even if you are a sponsored person. 

If I am without legal status or a refugee claimant, can I receive social assistance ?

A asylum seeker can receive social assistance. She must submit an application to the “Centre spécialisé des demandeurs d’asile, des garants défaillants et des parrainés.“ Refugee claimants are also eligible for the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) and for a work permit.
A person without status is usually not eligible for social assistance. They must legalize their status before they can apply for government services or renew a work visa. Please call us to discuss your situation further so that we can better advise you.

If you are experiencing one of these situations we have services that can help you !

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You are not alone! You have rights.
We are here to help you.

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