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More Than Shelter

A shelter is more than a place to stay. It’s the first step in finding the support and services you need, no matter where you are.

When You Call…

The safest way to call or receive calls from a shelter is from a friend’s phone, a public phone, a work phone, or any telephone that your partner cannot access. Call 1 866-331-3933 to be connected to an ACWS member shelter near you.

Find a Shelter

Frequently asked questions

If I am experiencing domestic violence, what are my options?

If you’re here reading this, you’ve already made the first step in finding support. Shelters provide many different levels of support including information and resources about domestic violence, 24/7 phone support, counselling, safety planning, and temporary housing should you need it.

What if I don’t want to stay at a shelter?

You don’t have to stay at a shelter to access support, such as counselling, safety planning, and help finding housing. Click here to find contact information for a shelter near you. They are ready to listen and help you find the support options available in your area.

Is a shelter only for women facing physical abuse?

Shelters provide support to women facing any kind of abuse. Click here to learn more about the different forms of domestic violence.

What if I’m not experiencing violence but I know someone who is?

If you know someone who is experiencing violence – or suspect they may be – you can phone a shelter to get advice tailored to their specific situation.

What if I know the shelter staff?

Shelter staff are discreet and professional. Anything you disclose to them is confidential, and you will never be judged for the situation you’re in. If you’re worried, you can always contact them anonymously or click here to find a different shelter.

What if I’m not ready to leave my partner?

Shelters support survivors unconditionally, whatever you choose to do. Staff will not pressure you to leave your partner but will support your choices while having your safety top of mind.

Can I take my kids with me?

Yes, you can bring your children with you. Shelters offer children’s programming, such as childcare, counselling, and support with school. Click here to find out what services are offered in your area.

What about my pets?

Many shelters allow pets or have partnerships with external organizations that will take care of your pets during your stay. Service animals are allowed in shelters by law. Click here to find out the services available in your area.

What if I have mobility issues?

Many shelters are fully or partially physically accessible. Click here to find out the services available in your area.

What if I’m a member of the 2SLGBTQ+ community?

Shelters are not just for straight, cis women. Many shelters and transition houses have policies that explicitly welcome members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Click here to find out the services available in your area.

How much does it cost to use shelter services?

Absolutely nothing. Shelter services are free.

Does my immigration status matter?

Your immigration status is not important. If you’re a woman in Canada facing domestic violence, support is available and shelters are here to provide it.

What about my job?

You can still go to work and receive support from a shelter. They can work around your schedule to provide the services that work for you at your own pace.

Source: Shelter Safe, Women’s Shelters Canada

About Abuse

What is Abuse?

Abuse can happen to anyone of any age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Abuse can affect people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. It has no boundaries. Remember that you do not have to stay in a shelter to receive help from them. Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviours to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. While we often assume that abuse is physical, there are in fact many forms of domestic violence. Some are less obvious and difficult to see but are no less devastating. Different forms of abuse can be occurring at the same time.

Types of Abuse

Abusers rarely exercise only one form of abuse on their loved ones. It is often the manipulation of several forms of abuse and behaviour that can go from loving and attentive to violent and abusive.

Physical Abuse can include slapping, punching, kicking, and choking. It is being slammed against a wall or being injured with a weapon or object.

Psychological Abuse includes living with the constant fear and/or threat of violence against you and/or your children, friends, relatives, and pets. Your partner may be harassing you at work by calling repeatedly or by showing up. They may destruct items that you value or may make suicide threats.

Emotional Abuse is never-ending criticism, name-calling, and put-downs alone or in public. It includes unjust blaming, false accusations about loyalties, and controls on your time, activities, and actions.

Sexual Abuse or Marital Rape is being forced against your will to perform sexual acts or to have pain and injury inflicted during sexual activity.

Financial Abuse means that you have limited or no access to the family’s money and therefore no control over what is spent or saved, what money comes into the family, and what will be bought.

Technology-facilitated Abuse is the use of technology to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. This includes your partner controlling who your social media friends are, writing degrading messages about you in public spaces online, and having control of your passwords. The abuser may also access your phone to monitor who you are texting and calling.

Spiritual or Cultural Abuse includes mocking or denigrating your spiritual beliefs or using religious doctrine as justification for abuse.


The “More Than” campaign was developed by Women’s Shelters Canada and versioned for use in the province of Alberta.