What is Abuse?

Physical

This includes slapping, kicking, hitting, biting, choking, and use of weapons.

Sexual

Occurs when a person is forced to perform sexual acts or suffers pain or injury during sex.

Psychological

This includes excessive jealousy, controlling a woman’s time, activities, how she dresses, how she wears her hair, not allowing her to see friends and family, and threats to take away her children.

Emotional

This includes name calling, put downs, blaming, and false accusations.

Isolation

Denying partner access or opportunity to keep friends, social contacts, outside interests, and making family contact difficult or impossible.

Financial/Economic

Occurs when a woman has no access to the family money, she is allowed no money for personal use and has no decision in how family money will be spent.

What services do you have for children?

Children who have witnessed violence in the home often have feelings of sadness, anger, confusion and guilt. The goal of the our children’s program is to listen and support, while helping them understand and cope with these feelings. The main focus of our children’s program is fun and healthy play.

The Children’s Counselor manages the program, and plans activities for the children such as games, crafts, reading, playing with toys and, if it is safe, outings are planned for the children. We try to have things available for children of all ages.

Our Children’s Counselor does not baby sit, however, child care may be provided for when a mother must visit a lawyer or attend a medical appointment and she is unable to access other child care. This child care must be requested in advance and is dependent on the availability of staff. While you are staying at the shelter, you are responsible for your children at all times. We have lots of toys for outside and a playroom in the shelter fully equipped with toys, games, books, craft supplies, and a  TV-VCR. Counseling for children who have witnessed abuse may be provided.

What do you do to keep the shelter safe?

We have many rules and policies that relate to safety. Some of the most important are:

  • The property is constantly monitored: we have a camera surveillance system, an intercom system, flood lighting and alarmed doors
  • Only approved visitors are admitted to the shelter. Staff control who is let into the shelter and monitor all departures from the building.
  • No information is given out without the consent of the client
  • The staff on shift wear a “panic button” at all times that is monitored by a security company. Should there be any problems, the police will be summoned within minutes.
  • No alcohol, illegal drugs or solvents are allowed in the shelter, no one who is under the influence is allowed into the shelter and those who are using/possessing alcohol, illegal drugs or solvents will be asked to leave
  • Everyone in shelter must comply with the “No Abuse Policy”; no abuse of any kind is permitted with the shelter, including no physical punishment of children, no swearing, no violent TV shows or movies, no yelling, any kind of verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, financial or spiritual abuse
  • All dangerous and toxic substances (medication, cleaning supplies) are kept in locked cupboards
  • Everyone at the shelter (residents, staff, volunteers, service persons, etc.) must comply with our confidentiality policy and protect the privacy of those using our services

Hours of operation?

All services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Who can get services?

Any abused woman (and her children, if applicable) is eligible for services, both over the phone and in person. Any person (woman or man) is welcome to call our crisis line.

What phone services are available?

Phone services include: emergency services, crisis intervention, counseling, supportive listening, referrals to other services, provision of information on a specific topic.

What number do you call for service?

Toll free crisis line: 1-877-977-0007
Local Crisis Line: 204-346-0028

What in-person services are available?

In-person services include: emergency shelter, transportation to the shelter, in-house counseling and support; non residential counseling and support (by appointment); referrals to community agencies and services; printed information on abuse and healing.

Can I make a referral?

The shelter is glad to accept referrals from friends, family members, neighbours and service providers. However, we must speak directly to the woman before any service can be put in place. There is information that we must collect from the woman herself. We also want to make sure that it is her choice to come to the shelter and that she is not being pressured by someone else, however well meaning their intentions may be.

Is the shelter accessible?

Our building is not fully accessible. Modifications have been made to the shelter so that is as accessible as possible. We have a bedroom and a bathroom that are fully wheelchair accessible. Our staff will work with the woman and her children to make her as comfortable as possible while they are at the shelter. We can modify the way that we do things so that everyone can participate in the services to the best of their abilities.

Do you provide services in other languages?

The shelter has employees who can speak a second language, for specific languages offered please call the shelter. We do our best to provide a translator once we know what is needed. We may need time to arrange for a translator.

Who comes to the shelter?

All kinds of different women come to the shelter. We provide services to women 18 years of age or older. Some of the women have children and some do not. Some bring their children to the shelter and some do not. Some women are working, some stay at home with their children. Some of the women are fearing for their lives and some are safe but need emotional support offered by the shelter. Some are well off, some are poor, and many different cultures may be represented. All of the women who come to the shelter have been abused and chose to come to the shelter for support and assistance.

What if I don’t know what to do?

Making the decison to leave or return to an abusive relationship isn’t easy. There are many factors to consider. The staff will help you explore your options and decide what steps are right for you. Sometimes it is helpful for you to come and stay at the shelter to get away from the abusive environment.  A shelter stay will allow a few days to get through the crisis period and think about what you would like to do next.

If you decide to leave:

In the case of an emergency, leave as soon as possible. You can always return with the assistance of the police to retrieve your belongings. The most important thing is the safety of you and, if applicable, your children. There is no cost to you to use the services of the shelter.

If you have time, following is a list of some items that you may want to bring with you:

  • Important documents (birth certificates, health insurance cards, status cards, driver’s license)
  • Money, credit cards, bank books
  • Medication, medical records, school records
  • Clothing, jewelry, children’s favorite toys
  • Items that you cherish such as photographs or keepsakes.

You are not alone. Violence and abuse happens to many women and any woman can be a victim. This crime transcends all income levels, cultures, ethnic origins, marital status and sexual orientation boundaries.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS A CRIME. It is a basic human right to live without fear of violence and abuse. Violence against women is a criminal offense. It is against the law for any person to assault you, even if you are married.

Where to go for help

Do not keep the violence and abuse you suffer a secret. You cannot handle this problem alone, and it is not your fault. There are many places you can call for help. Help is available 24 hours a day; here is a list of places you can get help:

  • 24 Hour, Toll Free Crisis Line: 1-877-977-0007
    This number will put you in touch with the shelter nearest you in the Province of Manitoba.
  • 911 or your local R.C.M.P. detachment

When an assault occurs, protection from further abuse is the first thing to deal with. To ensure your safety and the safety of your children you may:

  • Try to leave the scene
  • Take the children with you, if you have children
  • Contact the police
  • Seek assistance from a crisis shelter, hospital  or other safe place – i.e., nursing station (in remote areas)

Once you are safe, you may wish to:

  • Seek medical attention
  • Write down details of the assault while they are fresh in your mind
  • Talk to the police about immediate protection for you and your children, pressing charges and other safety items
  • Seek legal advice
  • Seek counseling and support

Whether you decide to leave or not, the decision is yours. No one will force you to leave. If you decide to stay, you should have a safety plan to ensure the well-being of yourself and, if applicable, your children.

Safety Plans

If you have been assaulted more than once, you probably know the warning signs. The batterer may become silent, drink, accuse you of things you have not done, bring up the past or call you down. Trust your own feelings of fear – chances are if you feel afraid, the batterer is building up to another act of violence or abuse. The best way to ensure that you (and your children, if applicable) are safe is to set up a safety plan. Following is a list of things that you may want to consider:

  • Plan how you and your children can get out of the house in an emergency
  • Memorize emergency numbers you might need, such as the hospital or nursing station, shelter and police
  • If possible, keep identification or copies of identification where you can get them quickly (health cards, birth certificates, social insurance cards, status cards) – for yourself, and for children, if applicable
  • Put some money in a safe place, a little bit at a time
  • Tell a neighbour about the abuse and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your house
  • Teach your children how to use the phone to contact the police
  • Find somewhere ahead of time that you and your children can go to spend the night that will be safe
  • If you do leave, do not tell the batterer, as often this leads to a violent or abusive situation

7 Myths About Abuse

Myth #1 – Women who stay in abusive relationships are asking to be abused and therefore must like it

Fact # 1

No one wants to be abused. A woman may stay in an abusive situation because she doesn’t want to break up the family. She hopes things will get better. She fears for her safety and the safety of her children, she depends on the abuser for financial resources, she has low self esteem because of the abuse, and because she is afraid.

Myth # 2 – Abuse against women occurs more often in certain groups of people.

Fact #2

Abuse against women occurs in all age, socio-economic, religious, racial, educational and geographic groups.

Myth #3 – Women often provoke abuse and deserve what they get

Fact #3

No woman ever deserves to be abused. Abusers often blame the woman so that they do not have to assume responsibility for their own actions.

Myth #4 – Alcohol and drugs cause violence and abuse

Fact #4

Alcohol and drugs are often used as excuses for abuse. Eliminating the use of alcohol and drugs does not eliminate the problem of abuse. The real cause of the abuse is the abuser’s desire for power and control.

Myth #5 – Abuse is often a one-time occurrence

Fact #5

Incidents of abuse increase in frequency over time. Typically a person who will abuse a woman once, will abuse her again.

Myth #6 – Abuse against women does not affect the children. Often the children do not know what is happening

Fact #6

Abuse against women has a devastating effect on children. Even those who have never seen a violent episode seem to sense their mother’s distress. Children who witness abuse are seriously affected and have a high probability of repeating the abuse in their adult life.

Myth #7 – A man has the right to abuse his wife or partner

Fact #7

No one has the right to abuse another person. Under the law, physical and sexual violence are crimes, regardless of the relationship.

More Facts About Violence Against Women

  • Approximately 35% of all women who visit emergency rooms and nursing stations are there because of injuries related to on-going abuse
  • Women with a disability, senior women and First Nations women are at higher risk of violence because they tend to be more isolated and have fewer resources available to them
  • 30% of all domestic violence incidents involve weapons
  • Woman abuse is rarely reported to the police and less than 5% of all incidents are reported
  • Violence and abuse usually begin in dating situations with extreme jealousy, name calling and the woman not getting to make any of the decisions (these are the warning signs that the relationship is going to get violent)
  • Over 40 % of the women murdered are killed by a current or former partner
  • Violence and abuse does not go away – it almost always gets worse
  • Over 60% of all Canadian women experience intimate physical or sexual violence
  • One in three Canadian women will experience at least one sexual assault in her lifetime
  • Physical and sexual violence and threats are a crime in Canada, even in a marriage

How many residents can you have?

We are a ten-bed shelter but can take up to sixteen residents. If we are full, we may transfer a woman, and her children – if applicable – to another shelter.

How long can you stay in the shelter?

The maximum stay is usually 30 days. Some women may stay for only one night, and other stay the full thirty days. You can decide to leave at any time. At the end of the thirty days, the staff will work with you to find a safe place. You will not be asked to leave the shelter if you are not safe to do so.

How many times can I come to the shelter?

There is no limit to the number of times that women can come to the shelter. Making the decision to leave an abusive situation is a very difficult thing to do and it is not the answer for everyone. Some women need to come to the shelter more than once before they decide to leave permanently. Others don’t want to leave the abusive situation and use the shelter to be safe when things are dangerous at home. You can come to the shelter whenever you feel you need to.

What do I do when I stay at the shelter?

The shelter operates communally, so where resident women are able, they typically participate in light housekeeping, meal planning and preparation; and resident meetings. There are no other requirements of resident clients staying at the shelter. Women in shelter can take time to rest, think, receive counseling, get assistance with finding housing, and relax.  Most often abused women have had all power and control taken away from them by the abuser. Agape House seeks to restore the women’s power, allowing them to make all decisions about what they are going to do next. Our dedicated and specialized staff support clients in their decisions and help them to stay safe within their choices.

What is it like to live at the shelter?

It can be challenging to live at the shelter. A woman who comes to the shelter first has to leave her own home, which is difficult, particularly if the woman has children. Depending on demand, residents may be required to live with others, which can also be difficult. When possible, each family gets their own bedroom, and we try to give older children a separate room close to their mother. All residents share the bathrooms, kitchen, living room and playroom. We try to make the shelter as much like a home as we can. Residents prepare their own breakfast and lunch, and all residents have dinner together, taking turns preparing the meal and cleaning up. Some women find it difficult to live in a communal environment, whereas others find it to be a positive experience, as they get to meet other women who share aspects of their own experiences. We try to accommodate everyone’s needs and are always open to suggestions on ways to improve our shelter services. There is always someone to talk to at the shelter – staff are available 24 hours.

What is the shelter’s confidentiality policy?

The shelter often works collaboratively with other service agencies. However, in order to protect a woman’s safety, we do not release any information without her written consent. This means if someone calls the shelter to find out if a woman is staying here, they will be told that “we cannot confirm that information; if that person is here we can leave a message for them.” Women in shelter may request not to receive messages from any or all callers to give herself space from family and friends for a time. This may seem severe, but it is important to remember that abused women may be at risk of life-threatening harm from their abuser. That risk is significantly increased when the woman attempts to leave the relationship (temporarily or permanently). Therefore, we must ensure that the woman’s confidentiality and safety are protected at all times.

What do the staff do?

There are a number of specialized individuals who work at Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre. Support Workers answer the crisis line, provide counseling to the women in residence with us, and coordinate the activities within the house. The role of the Support Worker is to assist a woman by providing information, listening to her story, supporting her in her decisions by helping her to develop a personalized safety plan. A Resident Counselor meets individually with  women staying in the shelter to help them determine their goals and to offer support in a variety of areas, which may include housing, legal, employment, family relationships and more. Additionally, our Non-Resident Counselor supports women who chose not to enter the shelter, but who require our assistance. A Children’s Counselor is also on staff, and provides activities and assistance for children on healthy relationships and the impact of witnessing abuse or being abused. There is also an Outreach/Follow Up Worker who is available to meet with women upon their departure if they should wish to maintain supportive contact with the shelter, and who offers informative presentations on a variety of topics in the communities we serve. The Executive Director oversees all shelter operations, managing programs, finances, fundraising and supervising the staff. Together the staff have a responsibility to keep the shelter safe and secure for all who are working and living here.

What else does the shelter do?

Agape House-Eastman Crisis Centre is involved in various ways within the Eastman region of Manitoba. Presentations relating to domestic violence and abuse are available on request. These presentations are available for children, teens, church groups, seniors and any interested groups. The staff of Agape House sit on various committees in the Eastman region, representing the needs of abused women and advocating for additional services that are specific to the needs of women and children. If you are interested in more information on the options for a presentation, please contact us and we will be please to provide additional information.

Additionally, we participate in awareness projects such as International Women’s Day (March 8), Family Violence Prevention Month (November), and Ecole Polytechnique Massacre Memorial (December 6), and work with non-residential and follow-up clients offering counseling, community referrals and other vital supports.