Toronto man launches service to help women flee domestic violence

The Shelter Movers of Toronto is the brainchild of natural gas company negotiator

A negotiator at a natural gas company may seem like an unlikely hero to women fleeing domestic abuse, but that’s just what one man is to Toronto women who need help to leave their homes.

Marc Hull-Jacquin has launched The Shelter Movers of Toronto, a non-profit moving company that tasks volunteers with helping women leave home in a hurry.

Hull-Jacquin is not a social worker or an expert in domestic violence. But he is a father of three, and was on paternity leave with his daughter when he learned of a similar venture in California. A company called Meathead Movers was getting calls from women asking them to help them move while their partner was out, before he could return to the home.

That company made helping women a segment of its business, and Hull-Jacquin figured he could offer something similar in Toronto.

“Being off with my daughter really reinforced for me the importance of offering a safe, loving household to kids,” Hull-Jacquin told CBC’s Metro Morning.

He hopes his non-profit “can bridge the gap” when women decide to leave an abusive situation.

“I’m not an expert in the domestic-violence field,” Hull-Jacquin said. “But I am very motivated. I can organize people and funds and contributions.”

He reached out to the California moving company, as well as local shelters and victims’ services groups, to learn about how best to help women and ensure their safety and privacy.

The organization’s guiding principles will be “respect and security,” he said.

Everyone has a “collective responsibility” to help these women, he said.

Volunteer teams of movers will be comprised of one man and one woman so women feel comfortable, he said, and moving vans will be unmarked.

“Discretion is very important in the process,” he said.

Hull-Jacquin launched his non-profit Friday in the financial district, recruiting volunteers at a Toronto law firm.

“It is a pervasive problem and it doesn’t just reach any one particular group,” he said. “In the city it touches every socio-economic background across town, and I think it’s a conversation we need to have.”

CBC News · Posted: Apr 29, 2016 2:07 PM ET

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