Issue 3: Resources for all women from all communities to leave domestic violence


Domestic Violence

Violence or other abuse against another in a domestic setting, such as marriage or cohabitation.

Rape Kits:

The ability to access a rape kit in Canada also depends, in part, on where you are located. Survivors of assault are often not able to access a rape kit - a package of tools used to collect evident of sexual assault - where they access medical care. In some cases, survivors have to drive hours to receive care where forensic evidence can be collected. According to Vice News, British Columbia has one of the lowest levels of accessibilities.

Accessibility is low in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities. In January 2017, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler raiser concerns that just 60% of northern First Nations communities in Ontario had access to rape kits. Health Canada dispatched rape kits to Ontario reserves after the concerns were raised.

Concerned about access to rape kits? Consider reaching out to the Minister of Health, Ministers responsible for Indigenous Canadians, and the Minister for Justice or Public Safety. You can reach out to your province or territory or the federal level.

Depending on where a woman lives in Canada, her ability to access resources and services to escape domestic violence will vary. While some areas will receive comprehensive medical attention, legal services and counselling – others will receive nothing. Indigenous women living on reserves can be particularly marginalized in this area, as they may have nowhere to go. The Star has recently revealed that Health Canada is sending rape kits to Ontario reserves due to the lack of services available to Indigenous survivors in these communities.

  • On any given day, four-in-ten shelters have no available beds and the need is even more acute in the North

  • As of 2016, Nunavut had just five shelters.

  • One third of communities across the Northwest Territories are without RCMP presences, 80% are without victims’ services, and 85% do not have a women’s shelter

    • There are five shelters that are operating in the territory – all of which were running at full capacity.

  • Women who have immigrated to Canada face barriers to accessing services, shelters, and resources

  • These barriers include literacy, limited knowledge of the Canadian systems (such as crisis centers or the legal system), financial insecurity, and fewer support systems or social networks

  • Other structural barriers including precarious citizenship status or ineligibility for some services due to immigration status

  • Immigrant women are more likely to live in poverty and work in lower-wage jobs. A shortage of culturally appropriate and sensitive support and resources available in multiple languages are also critical.  

The BC Society of Transition Houses conducted a survey and series of focus groups with their members to assessed the experiences of immigrant and refugee women.  You can read their report here.

Like new residents of Canadians, women with disabilities are often unable to access services because of an inability to connect with shelters, difficulty accessing transportation, and a fear of losing financial security. Women with disabilities often do not report abuse or flee violence because of fear of losing supports, or being institutionalized (forced into care facilities).

Who is affected?

  • Women, especially those who may not know how to escape these situations in their communities (for example, due to less knowledge of this area which may be held by some newcomer/immigrant communities, isolated rural communities, etc)

  • Great attention must also be given to those demographics that experience higher rates of domestic violence (including Indigenous peoples, persons with disability, racialized individuals, LGBTQ2S+ persons).

Who are the decision makers ?

What is being done now?


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