What is family violence and how to get help

An illustration showing the effects of domestic violence: a woman with a black eye with a family member behind her.

Original image  by Senior Airman Rusty Frank.  Public Domain

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Family, domestic, or partner abuse is defined as “intentional violence or threats of violence, and includes physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse (Manitoba Justice). In the province, victims are protected both by criminal law and civil law as stipulated in the Manitoba Domestic Violence and Stalking Act and the Domestic Violence and Stalking Regulation.

Even if you are not a Canadian citizen, you do have rights in Canada. You do not have to put up with abuse of any kind.

Stalking is considered a crime in Manitoba. It is an ominous act wherein a person closely monitors you and those close to you. It may involve a person following you around wherever you go; communicating directly or indirectly with you; watching the place where you live, work, or carry business; and directly threatening you and those you know.

Types of family violence

Family violence can be actual or even threatened. It can be:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Mental and emotional
  • Financial abuse

It also includes honour-based violence (Manitoba Family Services). Instances of honour-based violence are fear of or actual forced marriage, false imprisonment or forced abortion. You can download Breaking the cycle of domestic violence from the Manitoba Justice site to learn more about domestic violence and recognize the early signs if it is happening to you or someone you know.

Groups at risk

Vulnerable members of the family, such as women, children, older adults and persons with disabilities are the people most likely to be abused. However, there are cases too, when men are the victims.

Newcomers are an especially vulnerable group, since they may not have people to turn to and may feel isolated and alone. Also, some are not aware of help available to them while others are scared to call because they do not know how to speak in English or French. There are settlement service providers in Manitoba who specialize in helping newcomers in these situations. For a list of these agencies, go to the Manitoba Family Services site: Help for Immigrants.

Even if you are not a Canadian citizen, you do have rights in Canada. You do not have to put up with abuse of any kind.

Family Violence Prevention Program

The Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP) plans and develops community efforts to help stop family violence. Aside from maintaining the Crisis Phone Line (1-877-977-0007, toll free), it oversees 33 agencies across Manitoba that provide help for people affected by abuse.

The agencies provide 10 women’s shelters (provides emergency shelter and counseling for victims), nine women’s resource centres (for information, referral, counselling, outreach and support groups), four residential second-stage housing programs (long-term housing for women who left an abusive relationship), and fourteen specialized programs (for counseling, support groups, training, and public education).

Help for children

Children may be the most affected in a family living with violence. Even just the sounds, sights and the stress this brings affect every stage of their development and the effects can be long lasting. They are at a greater risk for emotional, behavioural, social and psychological problems (from The Impact of Domestic Violence on Children brochure, downloadable from the Manitoba Family Services site). Help is available from these agencies:

Wahbung 204-925-4670 (Winnipeg)
Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Inc. 204-925-0300 (Winnipeg)
Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 (toll free)
Klinic 204-786-8686 (Winnipeg), 1-888-322-3019 (toll free)
Suicide Prevention Line 1-877-435-7170 (toll free)
Ka Ni Kanichihk 204-953-5820 (Winnipeg)
MacDonald Youth Services 204-477-1722 (Winnipeg)
Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad 204-586-2588 (Winnipeg)
New Directions 204-786-7051 (Winnipeg)
Resource Assistance for Youth 204-783-5617 (Winnipeg)
Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg 204-982-4940 (Winnipeg)
Willow Place (for women and children)- 24-HOUR CRISIS LINE: 204-615-0311 OR 1-877-977-0007
Sources: Manitoba.ca (Family Services/Family Violence Protection Program); Manitoba Justice website. Updated February 8, 2019.

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Community Resources

Manitoba Family Services has a directory of resources and supports for victims of domestic violence.

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What is family violence and how to get help

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