Family Violence

In Canada, Family Violence is considered to be any form of abuse – physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse, mistreatment or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship.  It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts that form a pattern of abuse.

In Canada, women and men have the same legal status and rights and violence against women and children is against the law.   Everyone in Canada is entitled to legal protection to keep them safe.  It is a basic human right in Canada to be free of abuse and from fear of abuse in relationships.  These are the rights of everyone, including some of the most vulnerable in our society – women, children, seniors, and people with disabilities.

Even though Canada has strict laws in place for everyone’s safety, family violence remains a common and widespread problem in Canada.  To learn more about family violence in Canada, please visit the Government of Canada website

There are many organizations helping parents and children in the province.

ANC’s Parenting Across Cultures

Developed by and for newcomer parents as a way to support them in raising their children, this ANC workshop program provides newcomer families with advice on such topics as appropriate discipline, child safety, risk prevention, parental self-care, appropriate supervision, among others. The two-session presentation is designed to provide newcomer parents with a welcoming and safe social network where they can share their own experiences and collectively explore culturally appropriate strategies to meet Canadian parenting norms and expectations

Victims of Abuse

Any member of a family can be a victim of abuse.

  • Women– Violence against women is an ongoing problem in Canada.  Women are the most likely victims of family or relationship violence.  Statistics say that 83% of all police reported domestic assaults are against women and this pattern is consistent for every province and territory across Canada.
  • Children— In Canada, everyone has a legal obligation to report the suspected abuse of a child or youth to ensure children are protected from harm. This includes physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect of a child.  The toll free line to report concerns in Newfoundland and Labrador is 1 (833)-552-2368.   The Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development is required to investigate whether a child is in need of protective intervention.  Once an investigation is completed, if a child is found to be in need of protective intervention, the Department will take the necessary steps to protect the child as a result of their investigation, including removing the child from their home, if deemed necessary.
  • Seniors/People with Disabilities– Abuse is against the law in Canada.  Some common types of elder abuse include physical, psychological and financial abuse and can include neglect and humiliation.  As well, people with disabilities, including any person with an intellectual challenge, mental illness or physical disability has the right to be free from abuse.  The Adult Protection Act is the law in Newfoundland and Labrador which protects adults who do not understand or appreciate the risk of abuse and neglect.  The Adult Protection Act phone number to report abuse is 1(855)376-4957 or call your local police station.
  • Men– Violence against men can also happen. It is important for men to know that they are not alone, that violence against them in any form is wrong and that there are resources and supports available.

Organizations in NL that can Help

If you are in danger and need immediate assistance, please call ‘911’ or Anderson House. [See Related Resources]

There are several organizations in NL that work to prevent family violence, help the victims and educate the community about the issues of family and relationship abuse.   

The Domestic Violence Help Line

This province-wide, toll free number 1-888-709-7090 will detect the region where the caller is located and immediately connect them with one of ten transition houses that are part of the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. The caller is then able to immediately speak with a trained professional who will assist them directly, or connect them to the appropriate service or organization in the community, including women’s centres, Violence Prevention Newfoundland and Labrador organizations, government departments, or medical and policing services. The Domestic Violence Help Line is also fully text enabled, which provides an additional means for those in need to reach out for assistance. The Help Line will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador

Since 1987, THANL has provided member organizations with guidance, training, research and community awareness initiatives. THANL is a strong collective voice in equality-seeking work in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We lobby for the financial support needed to operate and establish new transition houses, participate in anti-violence activities in the province and offer regular networking opportunities to staff and management.

Because of the criminal, social and cyclical nature of violence against women, THANL believes that all levels of government and society must share in the responsibility to eliminate violence. We are committed to equality-seeking work in partnership with all those interested in working to eliminate violence in our Province and around the world.

Marguerite’s Place Supportive Housing

From the comfort and safety of their own apartments, Marguerite’s Place assists women move toward independence. We follow a trauma-informed, holistic approach and provide around-the-clock on-site staff. We provide women with tools and knowledge to develop healthy relationships, skills, and community connections to navigate challenges and crises.

To promote a sense of community, women participate in a weekly resident meal and meeting. Women engage with our housing support staff to develop personal support plans. Referrals are made to community services to support these plans. Individuals are encouraged to participate in any of the programs offered through the St. John’s Women’s Centre.

Safe Harbour Outreach Project

The Safe Harbour Outreach Project is the only sex worker advocacy program in Newfoundland and Labrador. Their mandate is to advocate for the human rights of all women who have engaged in sex work across our city and province, both on an individual and collective level. We serve women for whom sex work is an occupation. We also serve women who are in the industry not by choice, who are wishing to make changes in their lives.

Iris Kirby House

Iris Kirby House opened in 1981 to provide shelter and a safe haven for women and children who are experiencing domestic violence. Iris Kirby House provides a safe home to abused women from all walks of life – with support and the opportunity to explore alternatives to living in an abusive relationship.

NL Victim Services

NL Victim Services is a free service offered by the Department of Justice and Public Safety to victims of crime in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Victim Services provides assistance to victims of:

  • intimate partner violence (domestic violence);
  • sexual assault;
  • criminal harassment (stalking);
  • personal violence like assault; assault with a weapon; assault causing bodily harm;
  • threats;
  • homicide (family members can access services);
  • impaired driving;
  • property crimes; and
  • theft and fraud.

Outreach Services include providing support and information, advocacy and accompaniment (when appropriate) with agencies and organizations, assistance in arranging emergency shelter for women and their children, education and training about family violence, and second stage housing.

NL Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre

The NL Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre is a non-profit, community-based, charitable organization that exists to support individuals of all genders who have been impacted by sexual violence. We operate from a feminist, pro-choice, trauma-informed, person-centered perspective where individuals with lived experienced are honoured for their unique strengths, needs, skills, and abilities.

Forcing someone to engage in sexual activities without the person’s consent is considered rape or sexual assault; and, it is illegal even when it happens between a husband and wife.

Related Resources

Organizations and Programs That Can Help

Family Violence Prevention Resources

Related Topics in this Guide