Trixie Maybituin

[TW: abuse, domestic violence]

Pam Hadder, the community coordinator at Willow Place, explains the work of domestic violence shelters in Manitoba to the Human Rights Hub using an analogy: the organizations work collaboratively as a relay team with a mission to protect domestic violence survivors in a safe environment. When one organization finishes their “run,” they hand the baton over to the next member of the team, another organization. The collaborative work of domestic violence shelters across Manitoba is endless, as they provide programs and services to survivors of domestic abuse. While this sheds light on the work of domestic violence shelters in the province, it also sheds us on another unfortunate reality. There is a continuous and growing need for domestic violence resources (programs, outreach, or crisis lines) across Manitoba.

Statistics Canada reveals that Manitoba, alongside Saskatchewan, has the highest rates of family violence among the provinces. Family violence includes physical and sexual violence, financial control, isolation, and withholding and forcing affection. While we may recognize abuse when it is in the form of physical violence, the other forms of domestic violence often go unrecognized. As November is Domestic Violence Awareness month in Manitoba, it is important to educate ourselves about the different forms of violence, how to support domestic violence survivors, and where to access domestic violence resources across the province or the country.

Willow Place is a first-stage shelter that provides a safe environment for approximately 800-950 women per year. While domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, sexuality, or status, women are at-risk for domestic abuse simply because of their gender. The Canadian Women’s Foundation states that 6000+ women and children in Canada seek shelters because of their unsafe conditions at home. In Manitoba, those who are in danger and seeking emergency shelters may refer to the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters. According to Willow Place’s 2019-2020 annual report, the average stay at the shelter is 11 days. In addition to their shelter services, the organization also provides a family violence prevention support line, outreach services, follow-up services, public education, and men’s services, including a 17-week intervention program for males called “Caring Dads” []. Willow Place provides dedicated, trauma-informed, and person-centred support to those who need their no-cost services. While help is available at the shelter, Pam says that people still determine the frequency of what they want to talk about regarding their experiences. Shelter support is voluntary, but it is important to remember that Willow Place is a safe and supportive environment where “every person is deserving of respect and opportunity to reach their full potential” (Pam Hadder).

The work of domestic violence shelters, programs, and services across Manitoba is endless, and we can contribute to protecting domestic violence survivors too. Pam explains to the Hub that she believes that earlier intervention may positively impact the growth rates of domestic violence cases. If we are concerned that someone we know is a victim of domestic violence, we can also call the crisis line to report our concerns. Other forms of support are also encouraged. We can listen to others, express no judgment, and educate ourselves about issues relating to domestic violence by following accounts promoting healthy relationships and family resource centers.

If you or someone you know is being abused, please contact the 24/7 toll-free crisis line: # 1-877-977-0007. If you are in immediate danger, contact 911. For help finding a shelter, please refer to: