Five groups that can help you take the first steps in leaving an abusive relationship

Five groups that can help you take the first steps in leaving an abusive relationship

If you’re in a violent or abusive relationship and don’t know what to do, there are people who can help

Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of relationship status, sexual orientation, occupation, age or gender. Taking the first steps in leaving an abusive relationship can be hard. You may fear for your own safety or for the safety of a child or pet. You may need legal advice and not know where to get it—or you simply may not have anywhere else to go. No matter how insurmountable these problems may seem, you are not alone.

No matter who you are, you do not need to stay in an abusive relationship.

Toronto Police Service partners with a number of agencies that can help you safely find your out way out of a dangerous or violent domestic situation. Here are five organizations that can help:

Shelter Movers

Shelter Movers helps survivors of gender-based abuse or violence transition to a better, safer life. If you’re in a situation and need to leave immediately, Shelter Movers can help you make an urgent exit. Members of its team can also be there to escort you and your belongings from an abusive household to a shelter or other safe space, and later help you resettle by transporting you, your children, pets and belongings from a shelter to a new home. Shelter Movers works on a referral basis—clients may be referred to the agency by a person of authority, such as a social worker, doctor, police officer, crisis counsellor, or teacher; or by a public agency, including shelters, hospitals, schools, workplaces, places of worship, or sexual assault centres.

Victim Services Toronto

Victim Services Toronto offers a number of programs to assist those experiencing or in danger of domestic violence. Its Victim Crisis Response Program provides immediate short-term crisis response and intervention to those who need assistance exiting an abusive relationship, while its Teens Ending Abusive Relationships program helps young people recognize signs of a violent situation.

Interval House

Interval House is a warm, comfortable home that offers shelter and support to women survivors of domestic violence and their children while helping them to heal and rebuild their lives. Interval House offers a welcoming, accessible family environment where families are responsible for their own laundry and house-keeping duties and take turns cooking meals for other survivors staying in the home. It also provides all basic necessities, including food, toiletries, emergency medicine, and baby supplies, for the duration of their guests’ stay.


Sistering is a multi-service agency for at-risk, socially isolated women and trans people in Toronto who are homeless or precariously housed. It is a non-judgmental space, with practical and emotional support for those experiencing trauma and violence. Sistering works in collaboration with others in the community to change the social conditions that endanger the welfare of women and trans people. Its programs include a low-barrier 24/7 drop-in, as well as housing and case support.

Link Toronto

Leaving an abusive relationship on your own or with a child can be difficult enough. Having to worry about the safety of a beloved pet can make a move even more daunting, especially if you’ll temporarily be moving to a shelter that doesn’t allow animals. Link Toronto helps survivors of domestic violence find safe shelter for their pets. Pet owners exiting an abusive domestic situation can leave their pet with one of Link Toronto’s confidential SafePet veterinarians. Pets will be placed with a confidential foster for up to one year and reunited with their owner once the domestic violence survivor has re-established themselves in a safe environment.

No one should remain in an abusive or violent relationship. If you need help leaving an abusive situation, these organizations are here to help you.

Through education and enforcement we can reduce domestic violence. If you are a victim of domestic violence or you know someone who is a victim, please contact police at (416) 808-2222 or, in an emergency, if you are in immediate danger, call 911.