We Can Help
If you are being abused and you question your safety or the safety of your children, you need to get help now. Our counsellors are available right now. 24 hours per day, 7 days a week you can call our toll free and confidential crisis line 1-800-263-3247.
There is a lot of information on this page on ways you can get help including:
Safety Plan | What is Abuse? | Internet Safety | Telephone Safety | Helping Someone you Know | Sexual Abuse | Community Resources | Frequently Asked Questions
Are You in Danger Right Now?
- Call 911. If you cannot speak, just dial 911 and leave the phone off the hook; a police car will automatically be dispatched.
- If there is no 911 number in your area, check your phone book for the crisis/emergency number.
Do You Need to Get Away?
- Call Yellow Brick House at 1-800-263-3247. You can speak confidentially and get advice on your next steps.
If You Are Being Abused and Want to Leave
- Don’t tell your partner that you’re thinking of leaving.
- Take your children with you.
- Plan your emergency exits.
- Keep emergency phone numbers with you at all times.
- Set aside money for a taxi, and quarters or pre-paid phone cards for payphones.
- Take valuable documents with you such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, immigration papers, OHIP card, SIN card, bank books and bank cards.
- Make photocopies of all important documents and leave them with a person you trust.
- Bring documents that prove you have been living at the same address with your partner.
- Take your and your kids’ prescriptions and medicines.
- Open a bank account in your name or in the name of a person you trust. Make sure that bank statements are not mailed to your home.
- Save as much cash as you can.
- Hide extra clothing, house keys, car keys, money etc., at a friend’s house.
- Have an emergency suitcase packed if possible.
- Include some special toys and comforts for your children.
Are you being abused?
If you are being abused, or think you may be, do not hesitate to call and speak with one of our staff. A trained staff is available 24 hours, every day of the week. Our crisis line is toll free and confidential. 1-800-263-3247.
Signs that you are in an abusive relationship
Keep a checklist, if your partner exhibits behaviours like the ones listed below may be at risk for abuse:
- Speak badly about other people in your life so that you won’t associate with them anymore
- Constantly find fault in you or in others
- Over competitive with your time and attention
- Refuses to discuss their feelings and then blows up when you push the subject
- Disapprove of how you spend your money or how you dress
- Doesn’t understand the difference between affection and sex
- Accuse you of lying
- Demand to know where you are at all times
- Constantly becomes jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends or family
- Find it hard to apologize or take responsibility when they’ve done something wrong
- Doesn’t take no for an answer
- Threaten to harm you or themselves if you leave the relationship, they may threaten suicide
- Twists the truth to make you feel you are to blame for their actions
- Calls you offensive or derogatory names
- Humiliates or embarrasses you in front of other people
- Threatens you with physical violence, abandonment, or harm to others you love
- Threatens to harm themselves if you don’t comply with their wishes
- Expresses excessive jealousy about your friends and family
- Expresses excessive jealousy over friends of the opposite sex
- Isolates you from friends, family, or your local community
- Tries to control what you wear, eat, say, spend time with, spend money on, etc
- Blames you for their actions or mistakes
- Threatens to infect you with an illness, such as a sexually transmitted disease
- Withholds medication, or threatens to withhold medication
- Pressures you into having sexual contact you do not want
- Becomes violent or controlling when she or he is under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Steals money from you, or does not allow you access to your own moneyAttempts to forbid you from working or making money
Answering yes to any number of these questions may indicate that you are in an abusive relationship. Get help now.
The following is a suggested safety plan for women. Please note that all of the information may not apply to everyone, but it is designed so that one may extract what they feel is helpful.
Suggestions for Increasing Safety In the Relationship
I will have important phone numbers available to my children and myself.
Important Phone Numbers:
I can tell ______________________ and _______________________ about the violence and ask them to call police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my home.
If I leave my home, I can go to ____________________________.
I can leave extra money, car keys, clothes and copies of documents with: _____________________.
If I leave, I will bring:
▪ Birth certificates for me and my children
▪ Social Security Cards
▪ School and medical records
▪ Money, bankbooks, credit cards
▪ Keys – house/car/office
▪ Driver’s license and registration
▪ Change of clothes
▪ Welfare identification
▪ Passport(s), green card(s), work permits
▪ Divorce papers
▪ Lease/rental agreement, house deed
▪ Mortgage payment book, current unpaid bills
▪ Insurance papers
▪ Address book
▪ Pictures, jewelry, items of sentimental value
▪ Children’s favorite toys and or blanket
For more information and to get detailed guides in other languages, please visit The York Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee website.
Suggestions for Increasing Safety When the Relationship is Over
I can change the locks, install steel/metal doors, a security system, smoke detectors and an outside lighting system.
I will inform ____________________ and ________________ that my partner no longer lives with me and ask them to call the police if he is observed near my home or my children.
I will tell people who take care of my children the names of those who have permission to pick them up. The people who have permission are: ___________________ and _________________.
I can avoid stores, banks and ___________ that I used when I was with my partner.
If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can call _________________ for support.
I will inform people at school about my situation.
What is Abuse?
Abuse is any behaviour or action that is used to scare, harm, threaten, control or intimidate another person. It can come in different forms; physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, or spiritual. If you are trying to decide whether or not a situation may be abusive, simply look at the person’s intention behind their action. If the person’s intention is to do any of the above, you may be at risk for abuse.
Is defined as physical, emotional, psychological, stalking/harassment, sexual, financial, and/or threats of such abuse directed at a female by a person known to her in an attempt to control her. In this definition, control refers to an attempt on the abuser’s part to force a woman to comply with anything against her wishes. Woman abuse occurs regardless of socio-economic status, class, age, sexual orientation, occupation, mental health status, citizenship status, ability, spirituality practices, language, race, culture or ethnicity. It is also recognized that in our society, violence against women is perpetrated predominantly, but not exclusively, by males against females. There are, however, female perpetrators of violence. Although the abuse may involve repeated episodes with increasing severity, it may also be a one-time occurrence causing physical or emotional injury that is detrimental to the woman’s well being or that of her family.
Includes degrading the woman’s spiritual beliefs, withholding the means to practice, and/or forcing adherence to a particular belief system.
Includes bodily harm, discomfort or injury caused by hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, pushing, burning, biting, spitting, dragging, pulling, using weapons and objects, restraining, confining, stalking and/or the withholding of food and/or medical attention.
Includes any unwanted or forced sexual activity, including touching and intercourse. It also includes the possibility of exposure to sexual transmitted diseases and/or pregnancy by denying the use of protection during intercourse, and forced exposure to or participation in pornography or prostitution. It also includes withholding sex and demeaning women sexually through jokes, and sexual accusations.
Stalking and harassment
Includes behaviour which, in some cases, are against the law and known as “criminal harassment.” One of the key elements, which turn stalking behaviour into a crime, is the woman’s fear for her own safety or the safety of others. Stalking and harassment can take many different forms but usually is a pattern formed by repeated actions, or a series of different incidents. Each small incident may not seem important, but all the incidents together constitute a pattern. There is no complete list of stalking behaviour as these behaviours are added to from experience.
Psychological and emotional abuse
Is any act that provokes fear, diminishes the woman’s dignity or sense of self-worth, and/or intentionally inflicts psychological trauma as a means of exerting power and control over the woman. These may include, but are not limited to, on-going criticism, intimidation, humiliation, overly sarcastic comments, passive/aggressive control, harassment, threats to harm self or others, threats to harm pets, threats associated with immigration status, threats to take children away, inappropriate expressions of jealousy, brainwashing, dominance, degradation, possessiveness, control over daily activities, social isolation, purposeful destruction of property and use of privilege in society to threaten or coerce.
Includes controlling or restricting money to buy necessities such as medicine, medical supplies, food and clothing. It also includes withholding information about household financial matters, denying access to bank accounts and coercion to sign financial documents. Financial abuse can also include denying the right to seek and/or maintain employment, taking personal money, denying independent access to money, and/or excluding the woman from financial decision-making.
Source: The York Region Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee
- PC Windows – Google Chrome
- PC Windows – Internet Explorer
- PC Windows – Mozilla Firefox
- PC Windows – Netscape
- PC Windows
- Mac – Google Chrome
- Mac – Safari
- Mac – Firefox
- Mac – Netscape
Step 1: Click on menu “hamburger icon” top right corner
Step 2: Click on “Settings”
Step 3: Click on “Show advanced settings…”
Step 4: Click on “Clear browsing data…”
Step 1: Select the Tools in the menu bar. Open the Internet Options Dialog Box and select the General Tab.
Step 2: In the Temporary Internet Files, click Delete Files. Check the “Delete all offline content” and click OK.
Step 3: In the History, click Clear History.
Step 4: In Temporary Internet Files, click Delete Cookies and then OK.
Step 5: Click OK to exit the Internet Options Dialog Box.
Step 1: Select the Tools in the menu bar, then select the Options.
Step 2: Click on the “Privacy” Option, with the picture of a padlock.
Step 3: Select the “History” tab. Click on “Clear Browsing History Now”.
Step 4: Select the “Cache” tab. Click on “Clear Cache Now”.
Step 5: Click “OK” to exit the Options dialogue box.
Step 1: Select the Edit in the menu bar, then select the Preference.
Step 2: Under the Category, select Navigator. Then click Clear History as well as Clear Location Bar.
Step 3: Under Privacy & Security, select Cookies. Then click View Stored Cookies. Lastly, click Remove All Cookies.
Step 4: Under the Category, select Cache under Advanced. First click the Clear Memory Cache followed by the Clear Disk Cache.
Step 1: Select Windows in the C drive.
Step 2: Open the Temporary Internet Files Folders. Select all the files inside this folder and delete.
Step 3: Open the History folder (e.g. c:\windows\history\today in Win 98), select all the files inside this folder and delete.
Step 4: Open the Cookies folder (e.g. c:\windows\cookies in Win 98), select all the files inside this folder and delete.
Step 5: Disable the AutoComplete in the windows and/or browser options.
Step 6: Finally, after completed the above deletions, you should also empty the recycle bin.
Step 1: Click on “Chrome” on the main menu
Step 2: Click on “Clear Browsing Data”
Step 1: Go to “history” tab on the main menu.
Step 2: Scroll down to “clear history”.
Step 1: Go to “preferences” under the “Firefox” tab in main menu.
Step 2: Click on “Privacy” tab then go to the “Private Data” section on the bottom.
Step 3: Click “Clear Now”.
Step 1: Go to “Edit” menu and select “Preferences”.
Step 2: Select “Navigator” under the “Category” listing.
Step 3: Select “Clear History” in the “History” area.
Step 4: Click “OK” to erase history.
When you clear the cache and the history list, you erase ALL information that had been previously stored there. If your partner notices that the cache and history list have been deleted, they will realize that you know how to delete your tracks and could possibly think that you have something to hide.
A way to avoid suspicion is after clearing the CACHE and HISTORY LIST spend some time visiting sites that you think your partner wouldn’t object to. This way, the cache and history list start to get filled up and your partner might be less likely to notice that old information is missing.
A spouse or partner can often tell when a woman makes up her mind to stop the abuse. Do not underestimate your spouse. Always erase your tracks.
When you call Yellow Brick House, or any organization that assists women in danger, you must be careful to use a telephone that will not keep a record of the number you called. If you call long distance, the phone number will appear on the bill. Cell phones can also keep records of the numbers that have been called. Internet-based telephones, which also go by names like “VOIP”, or “Network Telephony”, keep records of all calls. Web-based telephone systems, such as “Skype”, also keep records. You should not use these types of telephone systems to call for help if your partner has access as well.
A local call made on a regular telephone line will not produce a record of the call. However, many telephones have a “redial” button, and you may want to call a friend or other “safe” number after you make any call you don’t want your partner to know about – they can check up on you just by pressing “redial”.
One way to be sure your home telephone uses a regular telephone line is to check your telephone bill. It will come from a Telephone Company, such as Bell or Rogers. It will not list any local numbers, only long distance. If you still aren’t sure, you should use extra caution.
The safest way to call or to receive calls from us is from a friend’s phone, a public phone, a work phone, or any telephone that has nothing to do with your partner.
Helping someone you know
Help your friend recognize the abuse:
Ask questions and acknowledge the abuse that is happening to them. Help your friend to see it is not normal and that they don’t deserve to be treated that way. Tell them it will probably escalate and get worse.
Validate your friend’s feelings and listen to what they want, even if you don’t agree with it. If your friend wants to stay in the relationship, or goes back and forth about it, try not to tell her that she is wrong. Tell her that you are worried about her safety and self-respect. Don’t give your friend ultimatums, it may make them feel like they can’t trust you or that you wont be there to support them. Help your friend recognize the abuser’s excuses for being violent (which blame the victim).
Help your friend with safety plans:
Help your friend focus on staying safe. Having a safety plan can help save lives when moments count.
If your friend breaks up with the abuser, keep up the support:
Keep in close contact with your friend, they may be feeling lonely, scared, embarrassed or angry. Your friend may want to get back together with her abuser. She may miss them or not feel strong enough to resist any pressure the abuser is putting on her. The risk of violence in often increased after the victim leaves her abuser, it is important to still be vigilant with safety precautions.
Help your friend talk to adults to get help if she is a minor:
Talk with your friend about telling parents or other trusted adults. Provide her with resources of local organizations that could help. If she won’t talk to an adult, then you must find an adult you trust to talk to about it. Ask your parents or a school counselor, nurse, or administrator. Ask the adult to help, to reach out, to intervene. Talk to your friend’s parents about what is happening to your friend. Don’t assume that your friend’s parents know about the abuse.
If you become frightened or frustrated, get support from friends and family members or other adults:
Educate yourself about dating violence. You can’t rescue your friend by yourself. But with support from other resources, family or friends, you can calmly support your friend as she deals with the violence in her life.
What to do if you are sexually abused
Victims of abuse should go to the Domestic Abuse Sexual Assault Centre (DASA) at Mackenzie Health:
- Provides a 24/7 specialized healthcare response by a specially trained forensic nursing team.
- Consists of an acute care and follow up component.
- Supports the enhanced police investigation by collecting forensic evidence of injuries from an assault.
- Staff will attend court to testify re: injuries documented.
- Provides client education and support.
The victim should go to the hospital within 72 hours of the assault. Do not shower or bathe as that washes away evidence. Forensic nurses will look at the nature of the current assault, look for a history of abuse, conduct a risk assessment, look at the mental health of the client, and collect forensic physical evidence that can be used in court.
The Forensic Physical Exam is a head to toe examination of the client (undressed). Palpation and documentation of any areas of tenderness will be recorded and all injuries will be identified and recorded with a detailed description. Trace forensic evidence such as fibres, hair, swabs, DNA, will be collected.
Treatment includes forensic documentation of injuries and areas of tenderness, forensic photography of injuries (pre and post treatment), treatment of any injuries (sutures, etc), three doses of antibiotics for a sexual assault, and one shot of an HIV preventative. Recommendations will be made (medical follow up, shelter, etc), collection of forensic evidence (ripped clothing, fibres, etc) and a risk assessment will be completed, followed by safety planning. A follow up appointment will occur within 2-3 days.
If over the age of 16; DASA will not report the abuse to the police. It is a confidential service. They will hold on to your file for up to 6 months so you can decide if you would like to report the assault to the police.
Question: What are the criteria for staying at an emergency shelter?
Answer: Women (16 or older) requesting admission to the shelter must be in crisis due to violence and abuse in their intimate relationship. It is the responsibility of the intake worker to determine whether or not a client is in crisis and requires emergency shelter. Women coming to the shelter must be able to live cooperatively and care for herself and her children. It may be necessary for some potential clients to come for an assessment prior to being accepted. Yellow Brick House is a gender inclusive environment.
Question: Do I have to be physically abused to come to the emergency shelter?
Answer: No. Abuse can take many forms including: physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, spiritual, and financial. Women who experience any type of abuse may stay at the emergency shelter.
Question: Where is the emergency shelter?
Answer: The location of the Shelter is confidential. When you call the Crisis Line at 1-800-263-3247, you will be given instructions on accessing the emergency shelter.
Question: Can I bring my children to the emergency shelter?
Answer: Yes. We accept all dependents. During intake your counselor will review your individual circumstances.
Question: Will my children go to school while I’m staying at the emergency shelter?
Answer: You will work with our Children’s Recreation and Advocacy Worker to continue your children in their present school or enroll them in a local school or daycare centre.
Question: Can I bring my pets to the emergency shelter?
Answer: Unfortunately we cannot accommodate pets in the emergency shelters unless your pet is a service animal. We will try to assist you by suggesting alternatives such as Pet Chateau in Richmond Hill (https://www.petchateau.ca/) or the OSPCA in Stouffville (https://ontariospca.ca/peac/). Both organizations can provide temporary housing and care for pets to assist women leaving abusive partners.
Question: What should I bring to the emergency shelter?
Answer: If you can, you should bring your identification and your children’s identification such as: birth certificates, passports, immigration papers, health care information, documentation about your housing, proof of residence/cohabitation, lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage papers, divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, restraining orders, marriage certificate, medication/prescription, bank card and bank information, and your address book (e-mail, website, doctors, friends, etc.).
Question: Do you have extra clothing for me and my children?
Answer: We have some emergency clothing and toiletries at the emergency shelter. You can also go to a local clothing program to choose some clothes free of charge.
Question: What does it cost for me to stay at the emergency shelter?
Answer: There is no cost to stay at the emergency shelter. We are funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, as well by the generous support of donations to Yellow Brick House.
Question: Will people know that I’m in the emergency shelter?
Answer: Confidentiality and safety are our highest priorities. We do not disclose the identities of those residing in our emergency shelters.