Everyone has the right to a safe, healthy and violence-free life. Women and children escaping abuse find a safe haven at Interval House — a home where they can heal their physical and emotional wounds and rebuild their lives.
Interval House has 13 bedrooms — family suites and single rooms. We can house 12 women and 18 children at any time, and offer them support on their healing journeys. Here, it’s family style living. The families are responsible for their own laundry and for keeping their rooms tidy, and they take turns cooking meals for the house. We provide all the basic necessities for the duration of their stay such as food, toiletries, emergency medicine, and baby supplies. We also have an accessible suite, to accommodate residents with special needs. It’s truly a warm and comfortable home.
The Heart of our Home
In our home, everyone takes a turn cooking, everyone helps with cleaning and we all eat together. Our kitchen is always bustling, filled with the smells of delicious food and the sounds of laughter and good conversation. In it, families share their meals and stories and real friendships are formed between families. At Interval House, the kitchen truly is the heart of our home.
Residential Program Elements
More than a home, the Residential Program provides a variety of services to support women and children as they heal and get a fresh start. The program includes:
By leaving abuse behind and choosing to seek a new life, the women at Interval House have demonstrated remarkable courage, strength, and resilience, and they deserve the highest care and respect.
Our role is to empower women survivors of intimate partner violence and their children. They have already done what they needed to, in order to survive their darkest days and the trauma of being abused by their most trusted loved one, and we encourage them to trust their decisions and instincts to bring them into happier days. Our counsellors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to listen and support survivors as they unpack their difficult experiences.
We offer one-on-one and group counselling and encourage women to share and learn from each other, and offer loving support.
In our Women’s Program, we work with survivors to address and provide guidance on subjects like independence, self-esteem, healthy relationships and boundaries, etc. In addition to counselling, we offer:
- Expressive Art Group
- Workshops on parenting and other subjects on demand
- Cultural Interpreters and ESL
- Court support to help women access legal aid and navigate the complex legal system when there are charges against an abuser and/or custody disputes
- Social activities: games, movies, outings and encouragement to practice self-care
We have created some really warm and welcoming spaces just for kids at Interval House! We have a big, bright playroom in the family area where children can enjoy toys and activities and make new friends. We also have the children’s room, where counselling groups and structured play are facilitated.
To help kids and their moms reconnect after leaving abuse behind, we organize family activities, like baking and gardening. On Saturdays, we go on affordable outings to parks, festivals, attractions or movies. Exploring the city and taking public transit helps women and children regain their confidence and independence, which is essential to the healing process after living in an abusive household. For many families, their first visit to the Zoo, the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Royal Ontario Museum is with Interval House. It’s an exciting time filled with new experiences and renewed hope.
Our children’s counselling sessions are unstructured, and this is a key distinction between the Children’s Program and Women’s Program. Child & Youth Counsellor/Advocates observe how children play and interact with each other to determine how the abuse has affected them, and work out how to address it. Our approach is individualized — geared to the specific needs of each child.
We tailor our programs for kids based on age. With younger kids, we focus on sharing and cooperation. Our art group facilitator helps kids express themselves in safe and creative ways. We have special programs like Nobody’s Perfect, a partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada, for moms and kids under 5 that reconnect them through play, singing, and reading. Parenting in an abusive home is often about keeping children quiet and safe. It’s a very freeing experience at Interval House when moms rediscover how to engage and bond with their kids.
With older kids, we talk about sexuality, bullying, defining abuse, boundaries, and we help them explore their feelings about leaving everything they knew behind. Our children’s groups are co-facilitated by two counsellors — a man and a woman. This serves to model positive and respectful interactions between differently gendered people, something many kids have never seen for themselves.
Pets are an important part of the family and sadly, in an abusive household, pets can be endangered too. Survivors are less likely to leave an abusive relationship if they have to leave a pet behind. That’s why we are happy to now have an option for survivors with pets that need a safe haven too. In partnership with Link Toronto and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association’s SafePet Network, we offer the SafePet Program, which matches Interval House residents with foster homes for their pets, ensuring their pets will be well looked after for the duration of their stay at the shelter. Partner veterinarians and foster caregivers are also kept confidential, to prevent abusers tracking down pets and/or estranged partners.
Survivors can access the program as part of Interval House’s regular admission and assessment process. This program gives families peace of mind so they can focus on their healing and well-being.
If you are interested in fostering pets or learning more about the program, visit Toronto’s SafePet Program.