Sign Petition for National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence

By | News, Uncategorized

Intimate Partner Violence needs to be a key element of The National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence.

Violence against women is at crisis levels across the country. Even before the pandemic, a woman was killed by her intimate partner every six days. Now 1 in 10 women are very concerned about the possibility of violence in the home during COVID-19.

Interval House is the first centre for abused women and children in Canada. For nearly 50 years, it has been our mission to create a world without intimate partner violence. Interval House offers survivors across the GTA a safe escape and the tools to rebuild their lives, but the question remains … what more can be done at the national level?

The Federal Government has released a Joint Declaration for a Canada free of Gender-Based Violence.  Although, this is a step in the right direction, we need action now.

The global pandemic has created more isolation, economic stress, and widened the already-dangerous gender inequalities in Canada. Isolation has further put thousands of women, girls, trans, non-binary and BIPOC people at an all-time high risk of violence at home.

Women are suffering at home at the hands of their abusers right now.

That’s why Interval House stands with women’s organizations and shelters across Canada to call for a national action plan – immediately.

We must coordinate our systems from coast to coast to coast to prevent and respond to intimate partner violence. We must acknowledge that 1 in 3 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime; that number is even higher if she is black, Indigenous or a woman of colour.

The UN called for all countries to implement a plan by 2015 and still Canada does not have a comprehensive strategy to deal with gender-based violence, including intimate partner violence.

Although this joint declaration is a good first step; survivors and people at risk can no longer afford to wait.

The National Action Plan to end Gender Based Violence needs to:

  • consult experts from IPV support services, shelters, and organizations,
  • ensure a collaborative response with municipal, provincial, and national governments,
  • include organizational structures such as law enforcement, judicial systems, health care.

Interval House cannot remain silent as the pandemic swirls around us. The National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence must specifically include Intimate Partner Violence and it’s overwhelming impact on racialized women.

We must rise up and demand the government builds a bold action plan that:

  • prevents violence through education and awareness;
  • ensures the legal justice system responds to lived realities of women facing violence;
  • increases access to services and protections for women living in fear; and
  • breaks down barriers to housing, employment and child care;
  • invests in further supports for women to rebuild their lives.

Together, we can prevent and end intimate partner violence in Canada.

Please sign this petition to raise your voice and support the call for a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence.

Why is it important include intimate partner violence in the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence?

  • Even before the pandemic, a woman was killed by her intimate partner every six days.[1]
  • 1 in 10 women is very concerned about the possibility of violence in the home during COVID-19.[2]
  • Intimate partner violence, including both spousal and dating violence, accounts for one in every four violent crimes reported to police in Canada.[3]
  • Violence against women costs taxpayers and the government billions of dollars every year: Canadians collectively spend $7.4 billion to deal with the aftermath of spousal violence alone. [4]
  • Globally, 1 in 3 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime; that number is even higher if she is black, Indigenous or a woman of colour[5]
  • It has a profound effect on children: Children who witness violence in the home have twice the rate of psychiatric disorders as children from non-violent homes.[6]
  • The rate of domestic violence is likely much higher than we know; 70% of spousal violence is not reported to the police.[7]

Share this petition and help us spread the word!








[1] Stats Canada via







Signs of Abuse & Resources for Young Adults

By | Uncategorized, News

It’s never too soon to learn about the dangers of intimate partner violence. That’s because young adults are especially vulnerable to dating violence and abuse. Girls and women aged 16-24 experience rates of intimate partner abuse at a much higher rate than overall average, and LGBTQ+ youth are even more vulnerable due to discrimination and lack of sex education centering their experiences.

Adolescence into young adulthood is a difficult period of transition, with varying levels of maturity and preparedness for adulthood among peers. It’s also the time when a person is likely to first exhibit abusive tendencies.  Becoming informed about the risks, signs and effects of intimate partner violence early can empower you to make smart decisions in the dating world. Did you know those who experience abuse in romantic relationships at a young age are also at risk of continuing to experience and perpetuate abuse later in life? This is why learning about it now will have an ongoing positive impact on your life.

Take the opportunity now to recognize and learn how to navigate experiences with abusive behaviour. Widespread awareness is key to breaking the cycle of abuse and protecting future generations from falling into toxic situations.

1) Do you understand what abuse is?

When we talk about intimate partner violence or domestic abuse there is a tendency to focus on physical violence. But abuse goes beyond physical harm. Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, coercive control, stalking, and financial abuse can be equally as damaging and toxic. With a solid understanding of what abuse means, you can better recognize abusive behaviours. Know the signs of abuse, so you are prepared to set healthy boundaries in an intimate relationship.

2) Do you know how your relationship should look if it is truly healthy?

For young adults who are new to intimate relationships it can be hard to discern the healthy ones from the unhealthy ones. This is exacerbated by romanticized depictions of obsessive and controlling behaviour in popular media. Abusive relationships are never black and white. And a partner having some good qualities doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t also abusive. Asking questions about your relationship and how your partner makes you feel can help you figure out if you are in a stable and healthy relationship.

3) Have you gotten a second opinion?

Intimate partner abuse can be complicated. It’s always important to have a support system beyond your romantic relationships. Talking to your network about your relationship can help you see from all angles what kind of a relationship you are really in.

If you don’t feel comfortable or safe talking to your friends or family about concerns you are having, many universities and colleges offer free student support services

Below are just some examples of resources in the Toronto area.

Good2talk – this helpline provides confidential support services to post-secondary students in Ontario and Nova Scotia

University of Toronto

Ryerson University


George Brown College

Centenntial College

As always, it’s so important to stay in touch with your feelings and instincts. Try to ensure you get enough alone time to process your experiences and tune into how you’re feeling. If you are uncomfortable or unsure of your connection with someone, it’s important to analyze that to find out if it’s just excited nerves or if perhaps it’s a red flag. Having a strong sense of self and connection to your own emotional state can really be your best defense against dangerous situations. You deserve to be in safe, loving relationships that make you feel free.

Coping in the Chaos

By | Uncategorized, News

The coronavirus pandemic has officially disrupted everyday life.  Almost everyone has been thrust into a new way of being.  You might be feeling the effects in a number of ways — physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially.

In this period of extreme stress, most people’s usual coping strategies for self-care are not an option. Exercise classes are cancelled, social events postponed, meeting a friend for coffee is off the table for now. But there are still ways to lower anxiety and stress and it’s more important than ever to prioritize what keeps your mind and body healthy. This is a great opportunity to think outside the box about what can bring a smile to your face and calm your mind. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1) Explore the world of online connections.

Even when life hasn’t been turned upside down, the internet can be a means to fulfilling your social needs. This fact has been taken to a whole new level since the implementation of mass social distancing. You can video chat with your friends or watch a live performance by your favorite artist. And if you feel like you’re struggling or just miss being able to go to conventional counseling, there are countless online therapy options. Sites like and allow people to connect through peer-to-peer support networks moderated by mental health professionals. This is a challenging time that may spark difficult emotions like fear and grief, and keeping options like online therapy in your back pocket can help.

2) Practice mindfulness with social media.

Social media can be a friend and a foe. With so many options for connecting online, it’s important to be aware of your stress levels and make sure to take breaks when you need them. Social media is an amazing avenue for connection when practicing physical distancing. It can help you stay in touch with loved ones and the outside world. But social media as a source of information and accurate news is not always ideal. There are countless voices and opinions on these platforms but it’s often hard to discern what’s fact. Social media can be detrimental to mental health when it’s over-consumed and constant. Scrolling a vast wall of updates about the current pandemic may heighten your fight or flight response, which is harmful to your physical and mental health. Tuning out is important, especially in times when bad news is outweighing good news.

3) Find an activity for your body and mind.

Although self-care should be a priority, you don’t want your self-care routine to become overwhelming. Despite the stressful circumstances we are living through, the responsibilities of everyday life continue. Finding activities that nourish your body and mind at the same time can help simplify your self-care routine. Yoga, stretching, and long walks (if possible) are just a few examples. If you feel like your to-do list is too long with working remotely or caring for family, a 30-minute yoga practice or walk around the neighbourhood might be the right choice for you. Check the websites of exercise studios in your area to find out what online classes are available for you.

4) Indulge in comfort TV.

People love to re-watch their favourite sitcoms over and over again and there is actually some science behind why. Watching reruns of your favourite TV shows can be a relaxing escape during a stressful period. It’s an activity that doesn’t require emotional investment, or a sense of unknowing. Especially when we are being constantly bombarded with media messaging around COVID-19, watching a series on Netflix is a safe activity when you feel like you’re in need of a break.

5) Feed your soul.

With all the extra time at home, self-quarantine presents a great opportunity to think more consciously about what you cook and eat. What you eat impacts your mental health, so it’s a good idea to consider your choices when taking your weekly trip to the grocery store. Some foods that can help reduce stress and anxiety include those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, potassium, zinc and more. If you love to cook or bake, you can experiment with the ingredients. If cooking isn’t your thing, just remember these items when planning your weekly grocery list: pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and chamomile tea. These easy-to-prep foods can all support your mental health.

Even for the brave essential front-line workers heading to jobs every day, the call for social distancing means more time at home. Take this opportunity to slow down and think about what makes you happy and what calms your mind. Try different activities and explore new ways to communicate. You might even discover new and effective coping strategies that you’ll bring along when our world returns to “normal”. But until that time comes, remember to take care of yourself one day at a time.

4 Tangible Ways You Can Help Prevent Abuse

By | Uncategorized, News

November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario. The need for awareness and prevention is still so great—the statistics highlight that clearly. In 2018 alone, 148 women and girls were killed in acts of gender-based violence across Canada. Every six days a woman in this country is killed by her current or former intimate partner. Children who grow up in violent households are more likely to be victimized as adults or perpetrate abuse themselves. Individuals who have experienced intimate partner violence are more likely to experience abuse in multiple relationships throughout their lives. Abuse is cyclical in nature.

Whether or not you’ve been directly impacted by abuse or intimate partner violence, everyone has a role to play in preventing abuse from continuing to negatively impact and sometimes even end the lives of women and children in our communities. Here are 4 tangible ways you can help prevent abuse and participate in the campaign to end gender-based violence.

1) Help create protective environments in your networks

Hold people accountable, believe survivors, and encourage change within your networks. By doing these things, you will start a ripple effect to prevent abuse at a larger scale. If you are a parent, teach your children to question gender roles that don’t feel right to them. If you are a teacher, intervene when bullying occurs and set examples of tolerance and acceptance. If you are a trying to date someone, be respectful, seek consent, and graciously accept rejection. If you are a university student, join or start a club that advocates for sexual safety and gender equality. If you are an employer, train staff about the signs of domestic abuse, offer employee assistance programs, and make a commitment to prioritizing the safety of your employees. By creating and fostering protective environments, you can support survivors and prevent abuse. Read more about the role employers have in supporting abuse survivors.

2) Talk to your friends & family about gender stereotypes and toxic masculinity

Over the last few years the idea of toxic masculinity has become top of mind. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have pushed gender-based violence and systemic gender inequality into the spotlight. The more we talk about these issues, the better chance we have to change societal attitudes for future generations. You can help change the attitudes of friends and family members by calling out instances of toxic masculinity and confronting gender stereotypes. Abuse thrives in secrecy and requires an imbalance of power in relationships. In order to prevent it we have to raise our voices against it. Read more about toxic masculinity and challenging patriarchal entitlement.

3) Support consent-based sex education at all levels of school.

Teaching children consent at a young age helps them recognize if their boundaries are being crossed. Consent-based sex education, which promotes mutual respect and self-empowerment, can help prevent toxic relationships and gender-based violence later in life. Consent is not a difficult concept to grasp, but it a life skill that should be practiced and internalized. It’s an important part of healthy relationships whether they are sexual or not, and supporting curriculum that discusses issues like consent will ensure healthier relationships for more and more individuals. Read more about consent.

4) Donate to front-line organizations that support survivors

Understanding that abuse is cyclical, we must also acknowledge that preventing future abuse means intervening and breaking the cycle of abuse happening today.  Supporting survivors of intimate partner violence is a tangible way to prevent abuse and gender-based violence. People who leave Interval House with a solid support network, housing options, employment, strengthened life skills, etc. are less likely to experience abuse with future intimate partners. They are also empowered to break the cycle of abuse once and for all, changing the trajectory of their children’s lives by protecting them from abuse and demonstrating healthy relationships moving forward.

Our Residential Program is designed to expose women and children to a healthy home environment of trust and support. Our BESS Program helps survivors achieve economic self-sufficiency. We rely on donor support to ensure that we are able to provide these programs and services, so if you have the capacity to give to front-line organizations like Interval House, this is an incredibly meaningful way to help prevent abuse and end gender-based violence.

Donate today.

BESS Housing Partnership Coordinator Talks Affordable Housing for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence

By | News, Uncategorized

When our clients come up against barriers to accessing safe and affordable housing, Chantel is there to help break those barriers down. As our Housing Partnership Coordinator at Interval House, Chantel is an expert at navigating the housing market. She is an essential team member in the Building Economic Self-Sufficiency Program (BESS), which supports women survivors of intimate partner violence living at the shelter or in the community as they rebuild their lives. We sat down with Chantel to talk about her role at Interval House and to get her insight on the barriers that survivors can face when seeking safe, affordable, and sustainable housing after abuse.

Can you tell us a bit about what you do at Interval House?

I’m the Housing Partnership Coordinator, which represents half of a two-person housing team that makes connections in the community to help women, along with their children, find housing and relocate after experiencing intimate partner violence.

Each day is spent connecting with private landlords and community agencies to advocate on behalf of women and children and assist them in their abuse-recovery journeys and relocation goals.

Can you talk about the housing support offered by Interval House?

Interval House offers housing support to women who have left abusive relationships, whether they are living in the shelter or in the community. We do private market searches and housing advocacy to private landlords, community agencies, and social services. The staff help clients organize their financial documentation and apply for any available income or housing supports in the city. Women are accompanied to viewings for apartments and interviews for transitional housing, and we follow-up with agencies that clients may have already applied to. We provide referrals to programs such as the Furniture Bank, where clients can get furniture if they’ve left everything behind, and referrals to moving/storage programs that can help collect valuable items left at the home of an abuser. We provide one-on-one housing counselling for dealing with landlords, information and assistance with the landlord and tenant board process, and eviction prevention. BESS offers workshops on how to navigate looking for a new apartment and managing expectations when getting back out in the housing market. We also provide resettlement support for women who have moved into the community, connecting them with additional BESS services such as employment and counseling service to break down their isolation and work towards the most important goal—building economic self-sufficiency.

What is your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the job is witnessing the transformation of our clients. Going through abuse and making it out to the other side, finding your footing and standing strong to create a life of safety and security for yourself and your children is a hard, emotionally charged battle. Each woman who comes to Interval House is strong and passionate about the safety they want to create in their lives. I’m glad to be a conduit of resources and I’m passionate to be of service. Women do a lot of hard work transforming their lives after abuse and sometimes I feel like a coach on the sidelines always there strategizing and re-strategizing. When the way forward is found, and it’s different for each person, it’s a great feeling and it’s an incredibly powerful thing to witness.

What are the biggest challenges that your clients face?

The biggest challenges they face are structural and systemic issues—like the lack of affordable housing in Toronto. Toronto is a huge city with millions of people and millions of jobs and it’s hard to narrow down to somewhere that’s affordable and stable. Renting in this city is an incredibly complicated situation financially. For people who have fluctuating financial and life circumstances, it’s even more difficult to navigate. There are some supports, like special priority housing, for survivors of intimate partner violence but there can be a lot of red tape. Sometimes a person who was in an abusive environment doesn’t have access to the necessary documentation, or they’ve had elements of their lives destroyed such as their credit, their employment history, or the unit they lived in. This all serves to further complicate the referential-based relationship with their previous landlord and their future landlord. Maybe they had two incomes before and now they have one, maybe they were forced to stay home and care for children and have been out of the job market for a long time. Don’t get me started on the price of rent again; it’s hard to break down a brick wall. We try our hardest for our clients here at Interval House, but there are systemic issues at play that negatively impact the most marginalized in our society. When situations change abruptly after fleeing violence, a lot of clients struggle to understand, why them? The step-by-step process of rebuilding a life can look so daunting. Thank god for our women’s counsellors.

Is there a specific client and story that sticks out in your mind?

I had a client who started coming to the BESS program after ending an on-again/off-again relationship with an abusive partner. She was dealing with trauma from that relationship, as well as issues with substance abuse, which had been a huge aspect of her life with her ex. When she found BESS, she was happy and ready to commit herself to breaking the cycle of abuse and rebuilding her life. She accessed counselling to start to look at the long-term trauma she had experienced, she got employment advice, and she attended group sessions to build connections with other women in similar situations. She took advantage of every possible program in BESS. I, along with my coworkers, became hopeful for her. Because she was no longer with her abusive ex, we couldn’t offer her respite at the shelter—Interval House’s Residential Program is an Emergency Shelter available only to those leaving an abusive home. She was finishing up her stay at a detox centre and was facing the very real and unsettling possibility of being homeless. We were able to find her transitional housing, but unfortunately it was located a far distance from the school that she had planned to attend, far from social support services that she had come to rely on, and it was an area that was triggering for her sobriety. Due to the state of the housing market, she felt she had little choice but to accept the unit, despite the fact that it put her in danger of relapsing and isolated her from her support network. In that unit she did struggle and stopped attending BESS for a while however she is resilient, as survivors are, and reached out to us again when she had regained her footing. Eventually, we were able to move her into more stable and healthy housing and she began to thrive. To me, this story represents so much of what we stand for. We don’t give up on people. We understand that healing from abuse isn’t a simple, linear task. Set-backs may happen but it doesn’t mean your life will always be this way. We still work with her and still maintain hope.

Do you think there is a housing crisis in Toronto?

100%. Absolutely. No doubt about it.

What do you think the government should be doing to support housing for survivors of intimate partner violence? 

In regards to housing, I believe the solution is to build more affordable units. There are tens of thousands of people living in this city who are waiting on an affordable housing unit. They are waiting for years and that’s just not acceptable. I think that it’s imperative to be innovative and create new possibilities for affordable housing and to also fix the housing that already exists. We find money for so many things in this city. Housing is a critical issue. We need more efficient bureaucracy to push affordable housing projects and initiatives forward. We need a transit system that extends to the furthest reaches of the GTA and it needs to be accessible and affordable. We need it so that people who choose to move outside of the core can still affordably access the city to find work and connect with support services. I think it’s important that we get the cost of rental units in Toronto under control. Buildings that are the exact same as they were 20 years ago are now double and triple the price for rent. Is an updated refrigerator and floor worth that much? There are women and children in abusive situations that are afraid to leave because they cannot financially afford to live alone in a safe, stable environment. They need a place to call home, a place that allows them to get to and from work and allows them access to a surrounding community that’s healthy, diverse and thriving. In many cases, like the client story I mentioned previously, the places that may be affordable may not be safe. That’s not fair to survivors and the children of survivors of violence in the community. Every survivor deserves to resettle into a safe and affordable environment.


5 Ways to Support Someone Experiencing Abuse

By | Uncategorized, News

Abuse doesn’t just affect the people directly involved. When someone you love and care about is being abused, it can leave you feeling angry, scared, and helpless. Victims of abuse often need the help and the support of others to break the cycle of violence. But it’s more complicated than just telling them to leave. Here are 5 ways to support someone experiencing abuse.

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