Abuse Is Wrong In Any Culture: for First Nations and Métis people

Who can I ask for help?

"I didn't realize the women's shelter was for me."

(from Aboriginal Women and Family Violence, Canada, National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada, 2008).

If you, or someone you know, are in immediate danger, call the police. They will come to stop the violence and deal with the person abusing you, and tell you what your rights are.

You can still get help if you decide not to leave.

If you are a woman experiencing abuse, you can contact a women's shelter if there is one in your community (in many places, they can find someone to pick you up). If there isn't one, you can ask the police, nurse or victim services worker about going to the nearest temporary emergency shelter or safe home until other arrangements can be made.

The temporary emergency shelter or safe home (or women's shelter or transition home) is a safe place where you and your children can stay, often for a few days or weeks. Many women's shelters have staff 24 hours a day, and most have some type of security system to keep out people who are being abusive.

You can call a women's shelter or a crisis line to ask questions or to tell your story. You do not have to tell them your name. Some women's shelters have toll-free numbers. Many women's shelter workers have been in violent relationships themselves so they will understand your situation.

The staff at the women's safe shelter will give you, and your children, a safe place to stay, and can help you get food, clothing, diapers, toys, information and support. They will be able to help direct you to services such as medical treatment, financial help, legal advice, and a new place to live, if that is what you want. The staff at the women's shelter will not tell the person who is being abusive, or anyone else, where you are unless you agree to it.

The phone numbers of women's shelters are available through the crisis lines.

You may need counselling services for yourself and your children as your family is making changes. Your health and well-being are very important.

  • Social services can help you with managing finances, finding appropriate housing, accessing culturally responsive services (such as counselling), and finding places where your partner can still visit the children in a safe environment (if this is what you agree to or what the court orders).
  • Women's resources centres can also assist you, especially those that serve Aboriginal clients, or have Aboriginal services.
  • Most communities have nurses and community health workers who can help you and your children. They can offer a range of services, including for those who have suffered from physical and sexual abuse, trauma, depression and family violence. In some areas, a registered psychiatric nurse or community mental health worker may also be available.
  • Some communities have victim services workers. They can help you and your children find a safe place to stay, or help you get an emergency protection order, a restraining order or a peace bond. Victim services workers can also help you get medical treatment and legal assistance. They can explain your rights and help you find the resources you need. Victim services workers can go with you to the police or the hospital. They will support you as you try to decide what to do. Aboriginal courtworkers can also help direct you to the services you need.
  • As well, every region of Canada has access to crisis lines, with toll-free phone numbers. You do not have to tell them your name. They can direct you to places where to get help. They will also listen if you want to talk about what is happening, and how you feel. Many people who answer the crisis line phones have been through abuse themselves.
  • Legal help is available from a lawyer or a legal aid office, and in some situations, is free of charge. Contact a legal aid office, a law line, an Aboriginal courtworker or victim services worker to find out where you can get legal help, and if you can get it free of charge.

IMPORTANT: If you call one of these organizations from home and your phone has a re-dial feature, then call some other number after calling that number. If you called from a cell phone, don't forget to clear the number from your list of past calls. That way the person who abused you will not know who you have just called, or what you plan to do. Many abusive people "check up on" the telephone calls of the people they are trying to control.

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