+1 800-338-3397

Leaving Abuse

Leaving an abusive relationship is a difficult decision to make. The longer a woman stays in the relationship the worse the abuse will get. Unfortunately, the time when a woman leaves her abuser is also the most dangerous time for her. At this point the abuser may escalate his / her behaviour i) to get you back, or ii) to ensure no-one else will “have you”.

Therefore it is extremely important to think ahead and have a plan before acting. A well thought out safety plan will enable a woman to think clearly and move quickly. It can seem overwhelming, but taking one step at a time may help.

A good first step in your plan is to contact the Bethesda House shelter (or other women’s shelter near you) to talk about your situation and decide what to do next. Counselors can then help you make a plan.

Do not stay in a dangerous situation longer because you are worried about what you will do with your pet. Bethesda House is a pet-friendly shelter and we will bring your pet into shelter with you whenever possible. If we aren’t able to accommodate your pet in shelter, we will help you access an approved “Safe Family, Safe Pet – Durham” temporary care provider or other resources. For more information about this, call us and talk talk to us.

An abused woman need not feel embarrassed to ask for help from her community. It may take longer for some women than others to get to the point where they are in a position to help themselves, depending on the abuse they have experienced.


Bethesda House is one of 4 women’s shelters in the Durham Region and one of 96 shelters in the province of Ontario. All 4 shelters take in women from both within and outside the Durham Region.

If you are looking for a shelter outside of Durham, connect with ShelterSafe.ca

Most shelters, including Bethesda House,  have 24 hour crisis lines and will pay transportation costs if a woman needs to go there for safety. You should call ahead to make sure beds are available or to get a referral to another shelter that has beds available for you. Staff at the shelter are trained to help you through the crisis of leaving an abusive situation.


The most important thing is to make sure you and your children are safe.
Do not leave your children behind if at all possible. This could be important for future custody consideration.


If you are able to safely collect these items in advance, it’s best to do so. If you are unable to do so safely and you need to leave for a shelter immediately, don’t worry,…get out,…get safe,…we’ll help you retrieve what you need later.

  • Legal documents, such as deed, mortgage or lease, bank books, charge cards, social insurance and other identification, immigration papers
  • Birth certificates for children and yourself
  • Clothes for a few days
  • Medications
  • Children’s feeding bottles, diapers, clothes, favorite toys and blanket
  • Keys for home, car, safety deposit box

If you have called the police, they will wait for you while you collect whatever items you need.


If a woman chooses not to go to a shelter to live but will struggle financially after she leaves, she can call the Department of Social Services and ask to speak with an intake worker to discuss her financial situation.  It is important that she inform the intake worker that she is trying to leave an abusive relationship.


Some women, when leaving abuse, may need help figuring out how to access the Durham Region Social Housing process. Bethesda House’s “Transitional Support and Housing Worker” (TSHW) is available to help both women in the shelter and women living in the community when they need this help.  Women leaving abuse are entitled to priority status with Ontario Housing. A doctor, lawyer, social worker, minister, shelter worker or other professionals who have been working with her and have a history of the relationship can write a letter on her behalf, outlining the abuse. The Bethesda House TSHW can also write this letter for you. It is to be included as part of a formal application.  The Bethesda House TSHW will go through the application process with you.  Most women will need to find temporary accommodation on a month-to-month basis while waiting for a subsidized unit as there is a waitlist for social housing. It is important to realize that priority status may be cancelled if she signs a long-term lease. Discuss your situation with the Housing Worker at whatever shelter you connect with.


When you make a call to someone who you do not wish your partner to know about, for example, your lawyer, Social Services, or a women’s shelter make a call right afterwards to a safe number so that your abuser cannot access the call by pressing *69. When making phone calls, a woman needs to be aware of the systems available through telephone providers and take safety precautions.

Victims of Violence can request permanent blocking by contacting Bell Customer Service.

Call Trace, another safety feature is now available on all individual lines (where technically possible). The Call Trace code must be dialed immediately after the harassing call is received. The Bell Call Trace code is “57” touchtone. There is a $5 charge for each trace, with a $10 monthly maximum. The trace information is recorded by Bell and will only be released to law enforcement agencies. Call Trace can be used even if the call has been blocked.

Blocking does not block calls to 9-1-1 emergency services.
Blocked calls can still be traced.