1416 Ernest Avenue (near Bradley), London, Ontario
24-Hour Crisis & Support Line
519-642-3000 or TTY 519-963-0427
Toll free: 1-800-265-1576
Emergency, Short-term Shelter
Women's Community House has been providing shelter for abused women and their children since 1978. There are a total of 67 beds available at our two shelter locations and there is no charge for your stay. While in the shelter, women can receive counselling and are offered programs such as personal safety planning and moving toward a life free of violence. Specialized programs for children who have witnessed violence are also available. Support for physical and mental health is available on site through partnerships with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the London Middlesex Health Unit. Children and youth (up to age 16 ) can stay with you in family-style rooms. Healthy meals and snacks are provided and there is a parent relief (childcare) program so that women can attend groups and meetings as well as scheduled relief times throughout the day.
Our Wellington Shelter is located at 101 Wellington Road and our Clarke Shelter is located at 450 Clarke Road.
To find out more, contact Women's Community House at 519-642-3000, TTY 519-963-0427 or 1-800-265-1576. WCH staff use a Model of Care that is an approach based on Feminism, Intersectionality, Hope, and Safety. Staff also believe in the Harm Reduction approach in dealing with substance use and addiction.
Second Stage Housing
Second Stage Housing offers women and children well-maintained, accessible, family-oriented, affordable housing with a focus on safety. Through participation in the group programs, women and children can progress towards their positive choices and changes. There are 25 self-contained apartments available for women and their children should they need longer-term safe accommodation. Counsellors at Women's Community House can refer you to Second Stage Housing or you can refer yourself. Women can stay in a rent-geared-to-income apartment for generally up to one year. You can reach Second Stage Housing by calling 519-642-3003 and selecting 3 or 1-800-265-1576 and ask for Second Stage Housing.
Trained staff/counsellors offer a wide variety of services to women including safety planning, legal and financial advocacy, consultation regarding housing, problem solving and community referrals.
Check the Gallery page for photos of each of our three facilities.
Questions and Answers
Here are some answers to common question you might be asking us or yourself. To finds answers to other types of question visit the FAQ page.
Q: How do I know if I'm abused?
A: Woman abuse is any action or behaviour including verbal threats, intimidation or physical force used to create fear and control over what you do. With abuse, the abuser has more power than those they are abusing. The abuser is always the one responsible for his or her behaviour. Abusers often use alcohol or drugs as an excuse. But the real cause is their need to use violence and abuse to control another person. Abuse can be situational, infrequent or an escalating pattern of abuse. Research has found that there is a significant overlap between woman abuse and child abuse. The associated risk of serious injury or death is often predictable and safety planning can be preventative. Risk assessment can begin with a call to the Abused Women’s Helpline. Some common signs of an abusive relationship include, but are not limited to, the following. (Adapted from information provided by Education Wife Assault and National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Interval House, Hamilton, Ontario and North York Public Health Department.).
Do you feel:
like you have to "walk on eggshells" to keep your partner from getting angry?
frightened by his/her temper?
you can't live without him/her?
you should stop seeing other friends or family, or give up activities you enjoy because he/she doesn't like them?
afraid to tell him/her your worries and feelings about the relationship?
you should comply because you are afraid to hurt his/her feelings; and have the urge to "rescue" him/her when he/she is troubled?
you are the only one who can help him/her and that you should try to "reform" him/her?
Do you believe:
you must stay because you feel he/she will harm or kill himself/herself if you leave?
jealousy is a sign of love?
the critical things he/she says to make you feel bad about yourself?
there is something wrong with you if you don't enjoy the sexual things he/she makes you do?
in the traditional ideas of what a man and a woman should be and do -- that the man makes the decisions and the woman pleases him?
found yourself making excuses to yourself or others for your partner's behaviour when you are treated badly?
stopped expressing opinions if he/she doesn't agree with them?
been kicked, hit, shoved, or had things thrown at you by him/her when he/she was jealous or angry?
Q: Are there different kinds of woman abuse?
A: You can be abused in many different ways. The following are just some examples:
Slapping or or biting you, or pulling your hair
Destroying your property
Abusing your loved ones such as children, siblings, or p parents or pets
"Caring" for you in a controlling way. This can include things like giving you too much medication or keeping you confined.
Using a weapon or other objects to threaten, hurt or kill you
Psychological or emotional abuse
Threatening to take your children away from you
Threatening to put you in an institution
Threatening to commit suicide/homicide
Threatening to withdraw immigration sponsorship, or to have you deported
Controlling your time, what you can do, how you dress and how you wear your hair
Putting limits on whom you can visit or talk to on the phone
Keeping you away from friends and relatives. This is also called "isolation."
Not respecting your privacy
Denying sex, affection or personal care
Putting you down and calling you names all the time
Calling you stupid, crazy or irrational
Accusing you of cheating
Attacking your self-esteem in other ways
Touching or acting sexual in any way that you don't want
Forcing or pressuring you into sexual acts
Forcing you to be a prostitute
Not letting you have information and education about sexuality
Forcing you to get pregnant, have an abortion, or have an operation so that you can't have children
Infecting you with HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases
Neglect and isolation:
Not letting you see a doctor or dentist
Taking away TTY, hearing aids or guide dogs
Locking you in the house without a phone
Not allowing you to see friends or family members
Not letting you work outside of the home
Not allowing you to take courses in ESL (English as a Second Language)
Financial abuse or exploitation:
Controlling how you spend money, where you work and what property you buy
Spending all family income, including your money and savings
Using credit cards without your permission; destroying your credit rating
Forcing you to turn over your benefit payment to the abuser
Putting you down or attacking your spiritual beliefs
Not allowing you to attend the church, synagogue, mosque or temple of your choice
Forcing you to join or stay in a cult.
Q: How can woman abuse affect me?
A: The effects of abuse do not stop once the hitting, yelling or put-downs stop. Here are some of the results of woman abuse:
Feelings of helplessness
Self blame and guilt
Long term health issues
Difficulty sleeping or eating.
Q: How can woman abuse affect my children?
A: Everyone is affected by woman abuse - neighbourhoods, families, work places. According to a 1999 survey on family violence, more than 461, 000 Canadian children had witnessed violence between family members in the five previous years. Other research shows that boys often react to witnessing violence by becoming more hostile and aggressive while girls often become depressed, anxious and complain of physical pain. A large portion of children exposed to abuse continue the cycle in their intimate relationships as adults.
Q: When are the shelters open?
A: Women's Community House shelters are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. There is always somebody to answer your phone call or let you into the shelter.
Q: Should I call first?
A: It's a good idea if you can call first so shelter staff can direct you to the shelter that has a room for you or make alternate arrangements at a nearby facility. However, if you believe your personal safety is at risk should you remain in your home, come to one of the shelters immediately or go to the nearest police station.
Q: What do I need to bring with me?
A: Depending on how much time and opportunity you have to gather things you might want to consider bringing along as many of the following items as you can, but do not delay leaving if danger is imminent:
Birth Certificate for you and your children
SIN (Social Insurance Number) cards
School and medical records, including the telephone numbers of the school and your family doctor or clinic
Money, bankbooks, cheque book and credit cards
Keys - house, car, office
Drivers licence and car registration documents
Prescribed medication and vitamin supplements
Social assistance documents
Passports, visas and work permits, immigration papers
Mortgage details or lease and rental agreements
Current unpaid bills
Family photographs, your diary, jewellery, small items of sentimental value
Your children's favourite items of clothing and small toys
Toiletries and clothes for you and your children.
Q: How will I find the shelter's location?
A: You can call us at 519-642-3000 or 1-800-265-1576, and we will give you directions. If you cannot safely make a call, police officers and taxi drivers generally know our location.
Q: What if the shelters are full?
A: Shelter staff will work together to find space for you at a nearby shelter at no cost to you or, if you choose, you may stay in another safe place. Transportation may be arranged, if needed.
Q: Are there community resources available if I decide I don't need to use a shelter?
A: The WCH Transitional Outreach Program can work closely with you to plan to leave an abusive relationship safely without coming into shelter. The necessary paperwork can happen anywhere it is safe to meet, such as a coffee shop or school, etc. In our community, there are many other resources such as police, lawyers and health care. Women's Community House can help you to learn more about what is available. For a listing of some of these resources, check out the Resources page on this website.
Q: I'm not being abused, but I know someone who is. How can I help?
A: There are a number of ways you can help:
Give her the Abused Women's Helpline telephone number 519-642-3000 or 1-800-265-1576 or shelterlondon.org and encourage her to contact us
Check out the Neighbours, Friends & Families (NFF) website for more information on how you can help. Provide her with brochures about Women's Community House
Offer to drive her to one of the shelters if it's safe for her and you
Assure her the abuse is not her fault and that she doesn't deserve it
Offer to keep an emergency bag (copies of important papers, keys, etc.) for her
Listen and believe her, but do not pressure her to take action.
Q: Will my partner be able to find me?
A: Women's Community House has a lot of built-in security measures and safety practices in place to ensure your safety. For example, staff will not talk to anyone without your permission. We also have trained staff and community partners, secure facilities and protocols to make sure you will not be harassed by your partner.
Q: What's a safety plan?
A: Safety plans involve identifying identifying specific action steps to increase your safety and helps to prepare you in advance for the possibility foof further violence. We can help you develop a safety plan.
Q: How safe will my children and I be at the shelter?
A: Our shelters are secured by steel doors and power locks and are monitored by security cameras. Staff members, residents and visitors are all screened before being allowed inside. You will be in a secure facility and have access to trained staff and volunteers. Only those people with whom you want contact with will be allowed to see you or speak to you.
Live at a shelter
Q: How long can I stay?
A: The length of stay is based on an assessment of the needs of each woman or family. Typically, but not always, stays are limited to six weeks.
Q: Who pays for my stay?
A: There is no charge to you for your stay at either of Women’s Community House’s shelters. Women's Community House has a variety of funders, including the provincial government, private donors, community groups and corporations.
Q: What kind of rooms are available?
A : Family-size rooms are available so your children can stay with you. You may have to share your room with another family or single woman. At the Clarke shelter, your room will be part of a residential unit with two other rooms and a shared kitchenette and living room.
Q: Do I have to participate in all of the programs?
A: You do not have to attend the programs. However, it's a good idea to get involved in as many programs as you think will benefit you. Shelters and their programs have been designed to help you. Many women find meeting with other women and counsellors helpful.
Q: Can I continue to work while living at Women's Community House?
A: Yes, you can continue to work. You will have to plan for safe travel, arrange safe child care, and any other individual issues. Women’s Community House staff can assist with those plans. Women's Community House will help you to create a safety plan that will include your work routines. You may want to alert your supervisor or human resources personnel in case you need to make alternate arrangements to avoid contact with your abuser. For instance, you may not want your partner to be allowed on the property to pick up you or your children.
Q: I'm on a special diet. Can WCH meet my dietary needs?
A: Every effort will be made to accommodate special dietary and cultural needs. Please let staff members know about any dietary requirements you or your children have.
Q: Does the shelter staff have specialized training?
A: In addition to academic and professional qualifications, shelter staff also receive ongoing, on-the-job training such as dealing with women who have experienced violence to support abused women, the effects of violence on child witnesses to woman abuse, risk assessment, Harm Reduction, legislation updates, and first aid.
Q: What kinds of programs does WCH offer?
A: WCH offers counselling sessions for you and your children to help you understand the impact of the abuse you have experienced and to offer suggestions, information, referrals and support you in making decisions about your future plans. Shelter staff will offer assistance in preparing an ongoing safety plan to help you respond to different situations in the future.
Q: Are pets allowed?
A: Your family pet can't stay with you in the shelter, but WCH will help you get your pet to a safe place. Service animals are permitted to be with you at all times during your stay. Food and water will be provided to service animals and other needs can be met following a discussion of your needs.
Q: Does Women's Community House accept lesbians?
A: Yes. Lesbians, bisexual and transgendered women who have been abused are welcome.
Q: Can I ever come back?
A: Yes you can return to the shelter if your need for safety requires a return.
Q: I don't speak English very well. Does Women's Community House have interpreters?
A: Cultural Interpreters are available 24 hours a day. Usually it takes a couple of hours to arrange for an on- site cultural interpreter. Women's Community House has a partnership with Across Languages who trains and provides cultural interpreters. As well, many staff members speak more than one language.
Q: How much does it cost to stay?
A: Women's Community House does not charge anything for your stay at either of our two shelters.
Q: Is Women's Community House accessible for a person with a disability?
A: Women's Community House has a comprehensive Customer Service Policy consistent with the Accessibility Ontarians with Disabilities Act and is equipped to help women and children with disabilities. Our property is wheelchair accessible and the shelters have at least one fully accessible bedroom, shower and washroom. All common areas (kitchen, dining room, living room) are fully accessible. Wide elevator doors, Braille elevator buttons and mirrors to assist in turns and other useful features are in place throughout our facilities. Communication using TTY or other assistive devices is available. Service animals and support persons are permitted at no cost and staff are trained in customer service. The Customer Service (AODA) Policy is available for perusal (also available in an alternate format upon request).
Q: What happens after I leave the shelter – is there any follow up?
A: Women's Community House has transitional support workers to help you, and you can call the Abused Women's Helpline for support through a crisis, for information and for referrals. We also offer follow-up sessions to discuss issues such as loneliness, surviving on your own and ensuring your personal safety. You may also want to contact other social agencies for further help.
Shelter and your children
Q: Will my children be welcome?
A: Male and female children can stay with you. There is no age restriction for any dependent children. Accommodation may be found for older (over 18) males.
Q: Can my children continue in their own schools?
A: Every effort will be made to keep the children in their normal routine, including attending their own school. However, if you fear for their safety there, alternate confidential arrangements may be made. Both the Thames Valley and Catholic School Boards are partners in a Safe Schools Protocol to ensure safety for children, including transportation.
Q: Who will look after my children when I have appointments?
A: Women's Community House provides limited childcare at specific times. Women are encouraged to arrange child care with other residents if possible, and Merrymount children's services may be available.
Q: Will going to a shelter affect my custody rights?
A: Your rights may not be affected by going to a shelter. For more information on custody and other legal matters, we suggest you look at the Ontario Women's Justice Network website or view the VIOLET website.
We keep a list of contact information for services that are offered to the public on our Non-WCH Services page.