Making the decision to leave a violent or abusive home can be difficult. From where to go, to who to ask questions to, it can be hard to find counsel and support you can trust. Luckily, there are countless resources available for people experiencing gender-based violence at low or no cost. If you’re thinking about leaving an abusive relationship or know someone who is experiencing violence, check out this extensive list of housing options, financial support, crisis lines, and more in the Greater Vancouver Area.
VictimLinkBC: A toll-free, confidential, and multilingual telephone service providing information, referral services, and immediate crisis support anyone who has experienced family or sexual violence, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
All staff are trained service workers who can connect people to community and government resources such as transition houses and counselling resources. Staff can also give information on the justice system, provincial and federal legislation and programs, crime prevention, safety planning, protection order registry, and other related resources.
VictimLinkBC is available in over 150 languages, including many North American Indigenous languages.
Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS): Immediate, short-term assistance to people experiencing violence and sexual abuse. BWSS Crisis Line’s trained and compassionate workers can connect people to community resources, address coping strategies, and help create safety plans. Other aids the Crisis Line can provide are legal information and remedies, referrals to medical services, and specialized support for immigrant and Indigenous women.
The Crisis Line is available Monday to Friday 10am-5pm and Wednesdays 10am-8pm. If it is not possible to speak safely, there is also the option to text 604-652-1867 or email email@example.com.
Crisis Line: 604-687-1867
Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) 24-Hour Crisis and Information Line: A national, confidential, toll-free crisis line staffed with skilled support workers who can listen, provide non-judgmental support, and give information on WAVAW services as well as referrals to community programs and agencies. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.
24-Hour Crisis and Information Line: 604-255-6344
National Toll-Free: 1-877-392-7583
Surrey Women’s Centre: Women and girls facing gender-based violence can call this centre 24/7 for immediate emotional and practical support.
The Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team (SMART) is available over the phone or in-person and can offer guidance through emergency medical, legal, and social services after an assault. At any given time, the team can provide accompaniment to the hospital and the police, and discuss legal and medical options.
Crisis Line: 604-583-1295
Surrey Women’s Centre provides other services in addition to SMART:
- Sharing Closet: Makes supplies such as clothes, toiletries, bedding, and small household items available at no cost to women and girls escaping violence.
- Counselling: Both one-to-one as well as group counselling. One-to-one counselling gives women control over their own recovery, while group counselling allows women to reach out to others with shared experiences.
- Legal Advocacy: Helps women understand their legal rights when dealing with the justice system. For criminal court cases, they offer information, resources, and guidance through legal proceedings. For family court cases, its pro bono family law clinic and volunteer lawyers can provide free legal information on options and remedies.
Tri-City Transitions Society: Provides emergency support and shelter to people leaving violence in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Anmore, and Belcarra.
Tri-City Transitions operates a 24-hour crisis line available every day of the year for people needing support or crisis intervention during emergency situations.
Crisis Line: 604-492-1700
Tri-City Transitions also runs the following services:
- Emergency Shelter: Joy’s Place Transition House supports women and their dependent children for up to 30 days by providing basic necessities and advocacy. Its safe environment can also offer information and referrals to community legal, educational, and counselling services.
- Second Stage Housing: Temporary, subsidized, supportive housing where women and their children aged 10 years and under can stay for up to a year. Second stage housing offers education, counselling, family law support, and more.
- Legal Support Services: Helps clients navigate the family court system, and provides longer-term support in housing, income assistance, and advocacy with government ministries. An outreach family court support worker can also assist clients with provincial court family law matters. This program connects clients to pro-bono legal clinics as well.
- Victim Services: Any individual impacted by violence and crime can receive emotional support, police case updates, legal information, and a variety of community referrals. Other practical supports this service can provide include court accompaniment, safety planning, and assistance in completing relevant forms. Help is also available for people who do not wish to be involved with the criminal justice system.
- Adult Support: Different counselling services to learn coping skills and help women move forward from experiences with abuse.
CRISIS CENTRES (INCLUDES COUNSELLING AND LEGAL SERVICES)
Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW): Trauma-informed feminist support for people experiencing sexualized violence. Services are open to people of marginalized genders, including cis and transwomen, Two-Spirit, trans and non-binary people. Programs offered by WAVAW are free and confidential, including:
- Counselling: One-to-one counselling as well as support groups for people who have experienced sexual assault. In this safe space, therapists help people who have experienced violence cope with its impacts by discussing topics such as sexuality, intimacy, and trust.
- Victim Services Program: Legal advocacy and support in navigating the criminal justice system after a sexual assault. This service offers:
- Information on legal rights of survivors of crime
- Accompaniment through legal and justice system proceedings
- Advocacy in criminal justice and medical systems
- Relevant referrals
- Assistance with related forms and applications
YWCA: One of Metro Vancouver’s largest non-profit organizations that provide advocacy and integrated services which support economic independence, wellness, and equal opportunities. YWCA has a wide array of programs, including but not limited to:
- Housing: YWCA operates 10 housing communities across Vancouver, including North Vancouver, Surrey, Coquitlam, and Langley. Housing ranges from emergency accommodations to long-term housing, and charges for many options are based on income.
- Employment Programs and Services: To help explore career options, YWCA offers everything free of charge, from job fairs to employment centres. YWCA also hosts a multitude of employment programs, where people can gain skills and experience necessary to find employment.
- Legal Education Resources: Free, one-on-one legal services are available to women in YWCA Affordable Housing to resolve Family Law, Immigration, and Child Protection issues. Free workshops on a broad range of legal issues are also open to the general public. What’s more, YWCA has also created legal education publications including a multilingual plain language guide navigating legal processes.
- Seeds of Independence: A mobile outreach program that meets women wherever they are most comfortable, with service spanning Surrey, New Westminster, Delta, Ladner, White Rock, and Tsawwassen. This program provides longer-term support for women and children who’ve exhausted crisis services and addresses employment, legal, and housing concerns.
Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre: A safe space in the Downtown Eastside exclusively for self-identified women and their children. The centre addresses immediate and crisis needs, such as food, clothing, toiletries, toilet and showers, first aid, computer and phone access, and more.
The Centre also holds the following programs:
- Housing Outreach: The Housing Team helps women access stable housing, offers support with utility bills to prevent eviction, assists in acquiring necessary household items, and provides referrals to other community resources.
- Victim Services and Healing Circles: Trauma-informed assistance through emotional support, accompaniment to court and hospital, and relevant referrals. This service is also open to those who choose not to report the crime.
- Skills Development: Empowers women by teaching skills for future employment or overall life improvement. This program covers topics such as life-skills development, health, and safety, and gives women the opportunity to receive certification in food safety and first aid. Women can also participate in centre activities as receptionists, shelter support workers, and more.
Options Community Services Society: A non-profit registered charity providing social services in Surrey, Delta, White Rock, and Langley. In collaboration with individuals, businesses, and community groups, this organization provides the following resources:
- Transition Housing: Safe and communal residence that provides clothing, meals, and personal toiletries. Transition house workers are available to assist with financial aid, medical care, legal assistance, important documentation, employment resources, and more.
- Threshold Multicultural Outreach: Support and empowerment for women who have experienced abuse through translation services, financial aid, exploration of education and employment services, immigration and sponsorship, and more.
- Finding Work: A variety of programs to help individuals find work, including a pre-employment program for adults living with mental illness and services connecting refugees and immigrants to potential employment.
- Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre: For children aged 3-18 who have experienced or are suspected to have experienced sexual abuse. Counsellors help improve children’s well-being through expressive therapy, emotional support, and educational workshops.
Act 2 Child and Family Services Society: A not-for-profit registered charity that helps people who have experienced violence improve their lives through housing, counselling, and support.
- Housing Support: Act 2 runs Safe Choice Transition House as well as the Homeless Prevention Program (HPP).
- Safe Choice Transition House is a second stage program that serves families facing poverty, racism, health, immigration, and language barriers. It provides safety planning, life skills training, and other forms of support both during and after each family’s 12-month stay.
- HPP provides rental supplements and support for up to a year to ensure women can maintain housing. The amount of supplement varies based on income and assets with a maximum of $450 a month. The supplement can go towards basic household items and damage deposits as well.
- Counselling: Based in the Tri-Cities and Ridge Meadows, Act 2 counselling programs help children, youth, and their families address emotional and behavioural issues that arise from traumatic events such as family violence. Some services are free while others are available for an affordable fee based on family income.
SHELTERS AND TRANSITION HOUSES
Monarch Place Transition House: Located in New Westminster, this safe and secure space is able to provide food, clothing, and shelter for 12 women and children at a time for a maximum of 30 days. Monarch Place is staffed 24 hours a day with professionals specializing in crisis and transition, and offers a variety of services such as “The Butterfly Room” children’s program, counselling, referrals to other community agencies and networks, life skills training, and advocacy assistance.
Other related services provided by this agency include:
- Chrysalis Place Second Stage House: An 11-bed residence where women can stay for up to one year while undergoing recovery and healing.
- Multicultural Outreach Services: Provides legal advocacy, help with income assistance, and affordable housing to multicultural women living in New Westminster.
Dixon House: A ten-bed emergency home where women, children, and pets can stay for up to 30 days. Resource information, children’s programs, and crisis counselling are available in this safe environment. Staff also provide advice in obtaining financial and legal assistance, access to Multicultural Support Services, and housing.
Other programs run by Dixon Transition Society include:
- Wenda’s Place: Second stage housing where women, children, and pets can stay for up to 2 years. Services provided by Wenda’s Place include individual and group counselling, youth activities, life skills coaching, and resource information and referrals.
- Third Stage Housing: Safe and affordable housing for women, children, and pets who are ready to live more independently after leaving transition or second-stage housing.
- Stopping the Violence Counselling: For women aged 19 and over in Burnaby, this non-judgmental space facilitates understanding of the emotional and psychological responses to trauma.
- Workshops: Helps sustain women’s success by discussing topics such as financial literacy, resume building, self-defence, and more.
Eva’s House: A second stage transition house where women and their children can stay for up to 6 months, with the possibility of an extension. Eva’s House offers referrals to community resources such as support groups, local food banks, and other transitional supports.
North Shore Crisis Services Society: Runs different transition housing options for women leaving violence, including:
- SAGE Transition House: An 18-bed transition house that offers food, clothing, referrals, advocacy, and individual and group support for up to 30 days.
- HOPE’s Place Second Stage Transition House: Accommodation and ongoing support for up to 15 months to help women and their children transition to independent lives free of violence.
This agency also provides the following services to women living on the North Shore or who’ve lived in SAGE Transition housing:
- Outreach Services Program (OSP): Offers legal support and advocacy, as well assistance in dealing with the justice system, accessing community resources, and support groups.
- Multicultural Outreach Services Program (MOS): Provides culturally sensitive services focussing on immigrant and refugee women. Services are available in English, Farsi, and Dari, with interpreter services possible in other languages as well.
- Good Stuff Connection Clothing Program: Free, clean, good-quality clothing, personal items, and other household items provided to clients and people referred by other community social agencies.
Atira Women’s Resource Society: Housing resources and support in finding safe housing for women and children affected by violence. Options include transition houses, second stage housing, and long-term housing.
Other free programs from Atira are available for women in the Downtown Eastside:
- Legal Advocacy Program: Safe, confidential, women’s-only space for low-income cis and transwomen.
- Stopping the Violence Counselling: Includes individual and group counselling where cis and transwomen can discuss:
- Feelings and experiences
- Crisis intervention
- Safety planning
- Coping strategies
- Necessary referrals to other agencies and services
Ishtar Women’s Resource Society: This resource society runs two transition houses which are safe, clean, temporary emergency accommodations staffed 24 hours a day. Ishtar House is a 12-bed transition house in Langley, while Libra House is a 10-bed facility in Aldergrove.
In addition to transitional housing, Ishtar also offers:
- Women’s Counselling: Free counselling accessible to all women in the Langley and Aldergrove areas. Individual counselling and crisis counselling for women still living with an abusive partner or who have recently experienced assault are available. Ishtar also runs group counselling which allows women to connect over shared experiences while covering topics such as healthy boundaries and coping with stress and trauma.
- Community-Based Victim Services: Provides emotional support and information on the justice system and legal processes to survivors of relationship violence, abuse, and criminal harassment. Community referrals, as well as practical assistance in the form of court and police accompaniment, help in securing a translator, and court orientation, are also available.
- Community Outreach Services: Support and advocacy regarding Family Law issues, housing, income assistance, and help in completing related forms.
- PEACE Program For Children and Youth Experiencing Violence: For children and youth between the ages of 3-18 who’ve experienced or witnessed violence in Langley, Fort Langley, and Aldergrove. This program discusses conflict, defines abuse, teaches kids their personal rights, and helps them express their feelings in a healthy manner.
BC Housing Housing Assistance for Women Fleeing Violence: For women living outside the Greater Vancouver Area, use this search tool to find transition houses, safe homes, second-stage housing, and other options available throughout BC.
Income Assistance from the BC Government: Income assistance can help women through the transition to employment. Eligibility is based on if someone is out of work or not earning enough to meet basic needs, if they’re waiting on other sources of money to arrive, if they can’t work at all, or if they urgently need food, shelter, or medical attention.
Income assistance can cover a range of benefits, from premium-free medical services plan coverage and no-deductible PharmaCare prescription coverage to general supplements for emergency needs, utility security deposits, medical therapies, and much more.
Income assistance rates are based on each situation and the size of the family unit – for example, a single individual may receive up to $760. Look here for more on what can be accessed through this program.
Applications can be completed online through My Self Serve, over the phone toll-free at 1-866-866-0800, or in person at a local office location. For more details on what information to have prepared and how to apply, visit the Government of British Columbia website.
Crime Victim Assistance Program: Helps people affected by violent crime by providing financial benefits to offset losses and aid the recovery process. Benefits include medical and dental services, counselling, protective measures, income support, childcare services, and several more.
For most cases, the application must be received within one year from the date the crime occurred. Charges don’t have to be laid nor does the offender have to be convicted for you to apply.
Attending Parole Board of Canada (PBC) Hearings: Financial assistance is available to cover expenses that may prevent people who’ve experienced violence from attending the hearings of their offenders. This gives people who’ve experienced violence a chance to observe or present a victim statement, allowing them to participate more fully in the justice system. Assistance can cover travel costs, accommodation, meals, and costs of child/dependent care for generally up to three days.
Government of Canada Benefits: The federal government offers family benefits to help with the costs of raising children, including the Canada child benefit, a tax-free monthly payment for families with children under the age of 18. Check out the website and this Benefits Finder tool to explore the full list of benefits.
MULTICULTURAL AND IMMIGRANT SERVICES
MOSAIC: A nonprofit organization serving immigrant, refugee, and multicultural communities throughout Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. MOSAIC offers many free, confidential services for multicultural women experiencing violence, including:
- Her Everyday Resilience (H.E.R) Multicultural Women’s Group: A drop-in group with workshops on identifying healthy relationships, self-care, preparing to leave, and more. It is held once a month from September to March (excluding December), with sessions run in English.
- Stopping the Violence Counselling: Counselling including client-centred one-to-one support as well as support groups that discuss self-esteem, setting boundaries, and coping with depression and anxiety. Service is available in Hindi, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, and English.
- MOSAIC Multicultural Victim Services: Support serving the specific needs of immigrants, refugees, and multicultural peoples who have experienced any crime in Vancouver and Burnaby. This program provides emotional support, legal information and referrals, and information on violence against women including safety assessment and planning. Service is available in Cantonese and English. You do not need to report a crime to the police to get help.
Vancouver and Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society (VLMFSS): Based in Burnaby, this non-profit is run by multicultural women who offer free and confidential services to immigrant, visible minority, and refugee women in the entire Metro Vancouver area.
Their multilingual workers provide the following services in 20 different languages:
- Multicultural Outreach & Stopping The Violence Program: Includes individual and group counselling, crisis intervention, and referrals to relevant resources in person or over the phone.
- Community-Based Victim Services: Offers information on court preparation, assists women in receiving compensation, and connects women to emergency social services and other useful resources.
- PEACE Trauma Counselling: Helps children and youth between ages 3-18 work through feelings that arise as a result of family violence in a safe, confidential environment.
SUPPORT FOR INDIGENOUS WOMEN
Aboriginal Mother Centre Society: Located in the east end of Vancouver, this society serves to address the needs of Indigenous women while providing counselling, advocacy, education, and other social supports. Some of the services the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society offers are:
- Transformational Housing: Offers 16 newly renovated suites for women and up to three of their children under the age of nine who are at risk of homelessness or child welfare intervention.
- Family Wellness Program: Available through Transformational Housing, this program gives women the skills they’ll need when they transition out through workshops on parenting, housing and resources, self-care, and other life skills.
- Licensed Daycare: Staffed by experienced and qualified Early Childhood Educators with a focus on Indigenous culture, values, tradition, and language. Children of all backgrounds are welcome.
- Homelessness Outreach: Designed to support Indigenous individuals and families at risk of/experiencing homelessness seek further employment or education. This program provides assistance by helping search for housing and offering resources for mental health and addiction counselling.
Helping Spirit Lodge Society: Addresses the issues of Indigenous family violence in the Greater Vancouver community by providing several different housing options as well as therapeutic services such as counselling.
Housing programs include:
- Journey Home Program: A range of services to help individuals and families access and maintain permanent housing. Once housing is obtained, this program provides wrap-around services including emergency living expenses and housing support funds, community connections, one-on-one case management, and more.
- Spirit Lodge Transition House: A 10-bed transition house that can accommodate women and their children for up to 30 days. The lodge is a safe space free of drugs or alcohol, staffed 24 hours, and provides non-judgmental support from Indigenous women as well as referrals to specialized counselling and addiction treatment.
- Spirit Way: A second stage housing program with 14 fully-furnished units where women and children can stay for up to 18 months. While fostering a safe environment, Spirit Way encourages women’s independence through supportive programming which helps residents gain skills and confidence.
- Kingsway Sierra: A 36-unit mixed market rental facility at Kingsway and Dumfries with priority social housing for Indigenous women at risk of homelessness.
ABOUT SHELTER MOVERS
Shelter Movers provides no-cost moving and storage services to people leaving violence. By working with local businesses like trunk rental companies, storage facilities, and private security firms, Shelter Movers takes care of financial and safety needs that arise when moving.
Shelter Movers serves clients who have either found a space in a shelter or who are already living in a shelter or safe home.
For those who don’t have a place to go yet, please contact the local support line for BC at 211.
For those who have a shelter space, have the shelter contact Shelter Movers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-203-6252 and include a call back number for a referral to discuss move needs.
If you are in immediate danger, dial 911 or your local police service now.