What is Family Violence?

Family Violence describes a systematic pattern of abusive behaviours within a relationship that is characterized by intimacy, dependency and/or trust. The abusive behaviours exist within a context where their purpose is to gain power, control and induce fear. All forms of abusive behaviour are ways in which one human being is trying to have control and/or exploit or have power over another. (Community Initiatives against Family Violence, Adopted October 9, 2001)

Types of Abuse:

  • Physical abuse: the intentional use of force against a person without that person’s consent. May include pushing, hitting, slapping, punching, strangling, stabbing, shooting, throwing objects, burning, and killing.
  • Sexual abuse: sexual touching or sexual activity without consent, continued sexual contact when asked to stop, or forcing someone to commit unsafe or humiliating sexual acts.
  • Emotional abuse: when a person uses words or actions to control, frighten or isolate someone or take away their self-respect. It can also sometimes be called psychological abuse.
  • Financial abuse: when someone uses money or property to control or exploit someone else.

(About Family Voilence. (2015, Jan. 7). Retrieved April 10, 2015, from Government of Canada Department of Justice:

What is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate partner violence or abuse happens within a marriage, common law, or dating relationship; at any time during the relationship including while it is breaking down or after it has ended.

In most cases one person may want power and complete control over their partner and will use different ways to achieve it. This type of abuse almost always gets worse over time and can often lead to serious physical violence. It can cause lasting health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

(About Family Voilence. (2015, Jan. 7). Retrieved April 10, 2015, from Government of Canada Department of Justice:

What is Child Abuse and Neglect?

Child abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse. It also includes neglect and any violence that children see or hear in their families. Children who witness family violence are at risk for both short term and long-term harm. Even if they don’t see or hear the violence, they can be affected by hearing or seeing the results of the violence. They can have emotional, behavioural, and developmental problems. These problems can last a long time. They are also at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

(About Family Voilence. (2015, Jan. 7). Retrieved April 10, 2015, from Government of Canada Department of Justice:

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that involves exposure to trauma involving death, threat of death, serious injury, or sexual violence.

PTSD can cause intrusive symptoms such as re-experiencing the traumatic event, vivid nightmares, flashbacks, or thoughts of the event that seem to come from nowhere.

People with PTSD will often avoid things that remind them of the event and feel very nervous or on edge all the time. They may feel startled very easily, have a hard time concentrating, feel irritable, or have problems sleeping well; often feeling like something terrible is about to happen, even if they are safe.

Some people with PTSD feel numb and detached; feeling disconnected from their body or thoughts, and may have a hard time experiencing emotions.

(Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). (2015). Retrieved April 10, 2015, from Canadian Mental Health Association: )

What Are the Signs of Family Violence?

  • Bruising or injuries, often blamed on clumsiness or accidents
  • Unseasonable clothing (turtlenecks) that may cover bruising
  • Changes in ability to concentrate
  • Unexplained absences from work
  • Upsetting phone calls throughout the day
  • Uncharacteristic sadness, withdrawal or exhaustion
  • Uncharacteristic fear or anxiety
  • Hints about trouble at home (partner has a bad temper, alcohol use, third-party concerns)
  • Controlling behavior of spouse

What is the Impact of Family Violence on Canadians?

All members of Canadian society are affected by family violence.

There are long term impacts of violence on victims’ physical and emotional health that can result in their inability to work, the loss of wages, their lack of participation in regular activities and their limited ability to care for themselves and their children.

Children may suffer long-term emotional, behavioural and developmental problems that can even lead them to be violent later in life. The consequences of family violence stretch far beyond to the victim’s family, friends, and communities.

There are also tremendous social costs. A considerable amount of Canadian resources are directed to address this issue including costs to health care, the justice system, to employers and businesses, and to social and community services.

A recent study by the Department of Justice Canada, An Estimation of the Economic Impact of Spousal Violence in Canada, (2009) estimates the economic impact of spousal violence to be about $7.4 billion a year, amounting to $225 per Canadian.

(About Family Voilence. (2015, Jan. 7). Retrieved April 10, 2015, from Government of Canada Department of Justice:

24-Hour Emergency Numbers

Police & Ambulance 911
Edmonton Family Violence Support Network
(Within Edmonton and Surrounding area)
Edmonton Support Network
(Outside of Edmonton)
Government of Alberta Family Violence Info Line 780-310-1818
Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) 1-866-331-3933
Support Network Distress Line 780-482-4357
Edmonton Sexual Assault Centre 780-423-4121
Emergency Social Services 780-427-3390
Edmonton & Region Child and Family Services 780-427-2250
Kids Help Line 1-800-668-6868
Child Abuse Hot Line 1-800-387-5437
Salvation Army Teen Support Line 780-428-8336

Emergency Shelters Specific to Family Violence

A Safe Place 780-464-7233
Lurana Shelter 780-424-5875
WIN House 780-479-0058
Youth Emergency Shelter 780-468-7070
La Salle Shelter 780-391-3167

Other Emergency Accommodations

Kids Kottage 780-944-2888
HOPE Mission 780-422-2018
Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre 780-423-5302

*this is not a comprehensive listing of all services, nor does inclusion represent endorsement of services

Women's Voices

For nearly 10 years I have dealt with an abusive cycle: being with the father of my children. I had exhausted all my options trying to leave on several occasions. Knowing what abuses were to come, it was clear I had to find another way out. I swallowed my pride and went to a women’s shelter. This was where I heard of WINGS.

At first I did not apply since I was determined to do it on my own. However a single mother with three children on income support cannot find housing at reasonable costs. With only a few days left at the women’s shelter, I applied for WINGS.

Now I have an apartment of my own and my children are safe. Having people there to help me through this transition has been most reassuring. My counsellor has been there to help me while I attain proper paperwork to help keep myself, as well as my children, safe. Breaking an abusive cycle alone has never worked out for me. Now I am more confident that I can finally be free this time.

Without WINGS I had nowhere safe to and probably would have ended back living with my children’s father. Without my counsellors support I would have never applied for an Emergency Protective Order which was something I should have done long a. I am excited to get my children back in a routine with a proper lifestyle. They deserve it.