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True or False

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Test your knowledge of domestic/intimate partner violence by answering these true or false questions.


Table 1. True or False Questions
Number Question True or False
1. Domestic/intimate partner abuse affects a small percentage of Canadians. True or False
2. Domestic/intimate partner violence does not usually result in serious injury. True or False
3. Violence between two men or two women in a same-sex relationship is a “fight” between equals. True or False
4. Women with disabilities are at a heightened risk of abuse. True or False
5. Abuse affects people from all socio-economic, cultural, religious and racial backgrounds. True or False
6. People remain or return to violent relationships for safety reasons. True or False
7. Men are abused by their partners as often as women. True or False
8. People remain in abusive relationships because they don’t mind being abused. True or False
9. If you fight back then it’s not abuse. True or False
10. Women who experience abuse are at increased risk once they leave their partners. True or False
11. Abuse, including violent attacks, is less frequent and less severe when a woman is pregnant. True or False
12. There is greater equality and mutuality in lesbian/gay relationships and therefore partners are seldom abusive. True or False
13. A person who beats or emotionally abuses their partner, but not their children, is still a good parent. True or False
14. Transgender women are more likely to experience physical violence and discrimination within an intimate relationship. True or False
15. Women are not violent. True or False
16. Domestic violence primarily occurs among people who hang out at bars, have lower incomes or are people of colour. True or False
17. The law does not and will not protect same-sex partners who experience domestic violence. True or False
18. Abusive partners are more apt to seek or counter-sue for child custody. True or False
19. 2SLGBTQ+ survivors of domestic violence are less likely to report incidents to the authorities or access shelters geared for survivors of domestic violence than cisgender and heterosexual survivors. True or False
20. Upon leaving an abusive relationship, women are able to immediately restructure their lives. True or False
21. On average, seven per cent of Ontario women living in a common-law or marital relationship are abused by their spousal partner. True or False
22. Individuals who identify as being 2SLGBTQ+ do not experience domestic abuse. True or False
23. People who experience domestic violence typically report to work normally without any recognizable absences. True or False
24. Men in same-sex relationships are as likely to experience domestic abuse as heterosexual women. True or False

Answer Key


  1. False. One in three Canadian women has experienced abuse at some point in her life, and every six days, a woman is killed by her partner. In 2010, police reported 48,700 people who experienced spousal violence. More than 80 per cent of them were women age 15 or older. Women from all backgrounds can experience intimate partner violence, but some groups are more vulnerable to abuse, in part due to a lack of services as well as barriers to existing services. These groups include: young, Indigenous, racialized, immigrant, refugee, non-status, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and Two Spirit women, women from particular ethno-cultural and/or religious communities, women living with a disability, HIV, or a mental health or addiction issue, and sex trade workers. Women are much more likely than men to be victims of severe forms of violence, multiple injuries and death. However, men also experience intimate partner violence and may have more difficulty disclosing and accessing services due to gender role expectations and lack of services. Transgender, Two Spirit, gay and bisexual men are at higher risk of experiencing intimate partner violence.

  2. False. Women experience more serious forms of spousal assault than men, for example, women in abusive relationships are twice as likely to be physically injured (42 per cent) by their male spouses as men by their female spouses (18 per cent). (Statistics Canada 2013. Measuring violence against women: Statistical trends, Ottawa, ON, Ministry of Industry, Pg. 82.)

  3. False. Abuse by an intimate partner is about one person having power and control over the thoughts, conduct and beliefs of another person. Sexual orientation/gender do not change the dynamics of an intimate relationship.

  4. True. Forty per cent of women with disabilities experience some form of violence in their lives. Women with disabilities are more likely to be isolated and dependent on their abusers for financial security, basic care, communication and protection. Caregivers have control and power to make decisions on a woman’s behalf, making her more vulnerable to abuse.

  5. True. Abuse can happen to anyone and across any backgrounds. Certain populations of women are at an increased risk of abuse, including women between the ages of 18 and 24; women aged 65 or older; women with disabilities or deaf women; Aboriginal women; women who were abused in childhood or exposed to violence against their mother; and pregnant women.

  6. True. Abused people: believe that if they appease the abuser, then they can control the abuse; have been threatened and believe the threats and capabilities of the abuser; and are emotionally held hostage out of genuine fear of real or perceived threats.

  7. False. In 2006, males accounted for 90 per cent of all those accused of criminal harassment involving partners. According to the Domestic Violence Death Review committee June 2006, in 93 per cent of cases women were being abused and in 94 per cent of the cases over the previous four years, men committed the murders.

  8. False. Many factors influence a person’s decision to remain in an abusive relationship, such as fear, guilt, shame, financial pressure or continued feelings of love for the partner. In some cases, people remain or return to violent relationships for safety reasons.

  9. False. Fighting back is not abuse, nor does it make the relationship “mutually abusive.” Survivors have used violence for many reasons, including self-defence, desperation, anger, and to try to stop the abuse.

  10. True. Prior to being killed, almost one in four (23 per cent) were known to have been criminally harassed by their estranged partners. One of the most dangerous times for women who are abused is after they leave their abusive partners. Women who leave and are forced to return are at an increased risk.

  11. False. For 40 per cent of women who are abused, the violence begins when they are pregnant. Attacks are frequently directed at the abdomen resulting in damage to the baby or miscarriage.

  12. False. Two women/men in a relationship does not automatically guarantee equality. Relationship struggles are never equal if abuse is involved.

  13. False. An abusive partner may provide material necessities, however, this does not make them a good parent. As children grow older and more independent, the abusive parent also wants to control their behaviour. Children are sometimes drawn into an assault and injured simply because they are present. Children heard or witnessed a parent being assaulted in 37 per cent of spousal violence cases.

  14. True, according to a 2014 report of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

  15. False. There is ample evidence that both genders have capacity for violence. Abusers and their partners come from all genders, races, classes, religions and regions.

  16. False. Abusers and their partners come from all genders, races, classes, religions and regions. Racist and classist stereotypes around domestic violence are common in both dominant heterosexual culture, as well as in the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

  17. False. Although many law enforcement professionals and court systems are still confused about same-sex domestic violence, there have been many constructive changes in recent years.

  18. True. As cited by Dr. Peter Jaffe, a renowned expert in the field of domestic violence.

  19. True, according to a 2015 report referenced in Egale Canada Human Rights Trust’s Presentation to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. Barriers to seeking help were identified to be an extreme lack of appropriate helping agencies and services, prevailing stigmatization and limited understanding of domestic violence within 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

  20. False. It may take up to five years for a woman to regain self-esteem. It has been documented that many suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many people who have experienced domestic violence are before the courts for years on breaches, additional threatening/assault charges, child access, custody and support issues.

  21. True, according to the Public Services Health and Safety Association, 2010 Domestic Violence Fast Facts.

  22. False. Sexual orientation doesn’t make any difference. Abuse is about control within a relationship and can occur within any relationship where one partner believes they have the right to control the other.

  23. False. Fifty-four per cent of people who have experienced domestic violence miss three or more days of work a month.True. Men in same-sex relationships are as likely to experience domestic violence as heterosexual women and are three times more likely than men who experience domestic violence in a hetero sexual relationship (Egale).

  24. True. Men in same-sex relationships are as likely to experience domestic violence as heterosexual women and are three times more likely than men who experience domestic violence in a hetero sexual relationship (Egale).


  1. Toronto Employment & Social Services. Domestic Violence Initiative Presentation. November 2012.
  2. Public Services Health & Safety Association. Domestic Violence Fast Facts. 2010.
  3. Occupational Health & Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO). Domestic Violence Doesn’t Stop When Your Worker Arrives at Work: What Employers Need to Know to Help. February 2010.
  4. Egale Canada Human Rights Trust. Presentation to the Standing Committee on Social Policy: Points of Consideration for Bill 132.

Myths and Facts

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Review the myths and facts of domestic/intimate partner violence.


Domestic/intimate partner abuse is a family matter.


Abusing, battering, assaulting or raping another person is a criminal offence. Domestic/intimate partner abuse has far-reaching social implications for everyone, affecting the abused person’s ability to lead a productive life and encouraging children brought up in an abusive home to repeat the cycle themselves and having a detrimental impact on their emotional and sometimes physical well-being. A lot of doctors and hospital time and funds are needed to help those who have been abused or beaten.


Abuse only happens in certain “problem” families, ethnic minorities, uneducated or poorer areas.


People from many different backgrounds are abused. Abuse cuts across race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation and cultural lines. People experiencing abuse have different levels of education and incomes, come from all age groups, races, and religions and have different levels of ability.


Lesbians, bisexual women, gay men, bisexual men and transgender men and women don’t get battered or abused.


Gender identity and sexual orientation doesn’t make any difference. Abuse is about control within a relationship and can occur within any relationship where one partner believes they have the right to control the other. Whether they are married or living together, of the same or opposite gender, have been together for a few weeks or many years really doesn’t make much difference – abuse can and does occur.


Domestic/intimate partner abuse is caused by excessive alcohol or the use of drugs.


A lot of research is going into the link between drug or alcohol use and violence. However, although some abusers are more prone to being violent when drunk, many more abuse when completely sober. Alcohol and drugs may increase the violence, but they do not cause it. Alcohol and drug abuse are separate issues from abuse, though they may overlap. Once again, blaming chemical dependency for abuse is missing the point; abusers are responsible for their actions.


Domestic/intimate partner abuse is a one-off incident.


Very rarely is abuse a one-off. Most often it is part of an ongoing means of establishing and maintaining control over another person. Abuse tends to increase both in velocity and extent over a period of time.


It can’t be that bad or she/he would leave.


There are many emotional, social, spiritual and financial hurdles to overcome before someone being abused can leave. Very often the constant undermining of the person’s self-belief and self-esteem can leave him/her with very little confidence, socially isolated and without the normal decision-making abilities. Leaving or trying to leave will also often increase the violence or abuse, and can put both the abused person and any children in a position of fearing for their lives. Leaving is the ultimate threat to the abusers power and control, and the abuser will often do anything rather than let the abused person go.


Abusers are always coarse, nasty, violent men and easily identified.


Abusers are often seemingly charming, generous and well-presented people who can hold positions of social standing. Abuse is kept for those nearest to them, in the privacy of their own homes. This Jekyll and Hyde tendency of the abuser can further confuse and frighten the person being abused, as the person in private is so very different to the person everyone else sees. It can also mean that when the person being abused finally does try to tell friends, family or acquaintances of the abuse, they are not believed because the person they are describing simply doesn’t fit the image portrayed in public.


Abusers just have a problem expressing anger. They need counselling or anger management courses to learn to resolve disputes without violence.


Most abusers have no problem resolving disputes with their boss or other outside person without resorting to violence. They chose to use violence and other forms of abuse against their partner as a means of maintaining their power over them.


The abused person provoked the violence.


The abuser is completely responsible for the abuse. No one can say or do anything that warrants being beaten and battered. Abusers often try to deflect their responsibility by blaming the partner via comments, such as:

“You made me angry.”
“You made me jealous.”
“This would never have happened if you hadn’t done that.”
“I didn’t mean to do that, but you were out of control.”

Those who are abused need to be assured that the abuse is not their fault.


Domestic/intimate partner abuse is a private matter and it’s none of my business.


We all have a responsibility to care for one another. Say something. If you don’t, your silence is the same as saying abuse is okay. Because you care, you need to do something… before it is too late.


The partners need couples counselling.


It is the abuser alone who needs counselling in order to change behaviour. Couples counselling is an inappropriate intervention that further endangers the abused person. It encourages the abuser to blame the other person by examining their ‘role’ in the problem. By seeing the couple together, the therapist erroneously suggests that the partner, too, is responsible for the abusers behaviour.


Violence between two men or two women in a same-sex relationship is a “fight” between equals.


Domestic/intimate partner violence is not the same as a consensual fight, no matter who is involved. Loving, healthy relationships do not include physical fighting. Domestic/intimate partner violence is about control and domination of one person by another; either person could be male, either person could be female. Abusers do not have to be bigger or stronger than the person they abuse.


When you leave your abusive relationship your risk decreases.


Once you leave, your partner’s abusive behaviour may continue for a while, or get worse. Separation (before, during and after) can be a time of high risk for someone leaving an abusive relationship. This is an important time to have a safety plan for you and your loved ones. You are strongly encouraged to speak to someone about safety planning and measures you can take to increase your safety. If you think you are at risk of being harmed by your partner, call police. Their role is to make sure that everyone is safe.

Why is it so hard for people to leave an abusive relationship?

People remain in abusive relationships for a variety of reasons. Reasons people stay include:

The person feels that the relationship is not all bad.

The person hopes that the relationship will improve.

Financial Concerns
The person is financially reliant on the abuser or does not have adequate funds to leave.

The person is concerned about the well-being of his/her children.

There are threats to harm the person, the person’s children and/or the person’s family.


  1. Toronto Employment & Social Services. Domestic Violence Initiative. November 2012.

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Anyone can experience domestic/intimate partner violence, regardless of age, race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or educational background. The abuser may be a current or former spouse or intimate partner, relative or friend. Some people may not realize that what they are experiencing is domestic/intimate partner violence. Co-workers witnessing or hearing of such behaviour may also not understand this. This is in part due to the fact that the majority of violent workplace incidents are committed by someone the person knows.

Do you think one of your colleagues may be in an abusive relationship? Here are some workplace-specific warning signs and symptoms.

The abused partner may:

  • Try to cover obvious injuries (e.g. long sleeves or turtlenecks on a hot day, sunglasses indoors) and attribute them to “falls,” “being clumsy” or “accidents”
  • Be sad, lonely, withdrawn and afraid
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Have unplanned absences
  • Minimize, deny or apologize for the perpetrator’s behaviour
  • Be sensitive about home life or hints of trouble at home
  • Receive an unusual number of phone calls and have strong reactions to those calls
  • Be reluctant to discuss or respond to phone messages
  • Arrive to work late or very early or request to leave early
  • Have repeated conversations about marital or relationship problems
  • Have bruises, chronic headaches, abdominal pains, muscle aches, fatigues, sleeping or eating disorders
  • Make last-minute excuses/cancellations
  • Use substances to cope
  • Be absent from work more often than usual
  • Have decreased productivity, inconsistent work quality or difficulty concentrating on tasks
  • Be nervous talking when the perpetrator is present
  • Have difficulty making decisions alone
  • Avoid windows and/or the main entrance of the office
  • Receive flowers or gifts for no apparent reason
  • Have vague, non-specific medical complaints
  • Express suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Have flashbacks
  • Be emotionally distressed, depressed or have suicidal thoughts
  • Have uncharacteristic signs of anxiety and fear
  • Be fearful of job loss

Perpetrator may attempt to prevent their partner from getting to work or seeking work by:

  • Interfering with transportation (e.g. hiding car keys or transportation money)
  • Hiding or stealing the partner’s identification cards
  • Threatening deportation in a situation where their partner was sponsored
  • Failing to show up to care for children
  • Using physical restraint

Perpetrator may interfere with the abused person while at work by:

  • Repeatedly phoning or emailing
  • Stalking and/or watching
  • Showing up at the workplace and pestering co-workers with questions about the partner
  • Lying to co-workers about the partner’s whereabouts
  • Destroying the partner’s or workplace’s property
  • Threatening partner and/or co-workers
  • Displaying jealous and controlling behaviour
  • Verbally abusing the partner and/or co-workers
  • Making disruptive personal visits to the workplace
  • Physically harming the partner and/or co-workers

The most common tactics are:

  • Repeated harassing phone calls
  • In-person harassment at the workplace

Co-workers may:

  • Receive insensitive or insulting messages intended for the abused person
  • Be threatened, abused or physically harmed

Someone who is abusive at home may be “invisible” as an abuser at work. While not all abusers reveal overtly violent behaviour, some visible warning signs that may indicate an abusive temperament include:

  • Bullying others at work
  • Denying that there is a problem
  • Having “defensive injuries” (e.g. scratch marks)
  • Being absent or late related to their actions toward the abused person or for court-mandated/jail time
  • Calling the partner repeatedly during work
  • Blaming others for problems, especially the partner
  • Being familiar with the legal and social service systems and using them to their advantage so it appears they are the injured party


  1. Occupational Health & Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO) Domestic Violence Doesn’t Stop When Your Worker Arrives at Work: What Employers Need to Know to Help. February 2010.
  2. Cambridge Public Health Department. How to Respond to Employees Facing Domestic Violence: A Workplace Handbook for Managers, Supervisors, and Co-Workers.
  3. Western Education Make It Our Business. Warning signs for the workplace. 2010.
  4. Public Services Health & Safety Association. Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace: A Handbook, 2nd Edition. August 2010.
  5. Refuge and Respect. Domestic violence resource manual for employers, 2nd Edition. 2010.

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Abuse can take many forms. It can be emotional, psychological, social, sexual, financial and/or physical. Sometimes a number of these kinds of abuse occur at the same time.

It is deliberate and purposeful violence, abuse and intimidation perpetrated by one person against another in an intimate partner relationship. It happens between two people when one person exercises power over the other person. It usually causes fear, physical and/or psychological harm. It may be a single act or a series of acts.

You may be experiencing abuse in your intimate partner relationship if:

Your partner:

  • gets jealous when others are around
  • destroys or threatens to destroy your possessions
  • puts you down, calls you names or threatens you
  • blames you when things go wrong
  • pushes you
  • hits you
  • hits the walls
  • yells at you
  • harms or threatens to harm your pet
  • threatens to harm your family or friends
  • threatens suicide or self-harm

You feel you have to:

  • ask permission to spend money or go out
  • take the blame when things go wrong
  • do what your partner wants
  • make excuses for your partner’s behaviour

You feel:

  • afraid to make decisions out of fear of your partner’s reaction or anger
  • isolated from friends, family and activities
  • afraid to express your opinions
  • afraid to say no
  • afraid to leave the relationship

If these examples sound familiar, you may be experiencing abuse.

Some forms of abuse are criminal offences in the Criminal Code, including:

  • physical assault (such as hitting, punching, strangling)
  • sexual assault
  • threats to harm or kill
  • forcibly withholding food and medical treatment
  • taking another person’s source of income through fraud or threats
  • stalking or criminal harassment (creating fear by repeatedly following, communicating or attempting to communicate with a person)
  • forced labour
  • forced prostitution (human trafficking)


Remember that abuse is never acceptable and physical and sexual abuse are crimes under Canadian law. If you have questions, reach out for support. Assistance and information is a phone call away.


  1. Government of Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Domestic Violence Action Plan. 2010.
  2. Lynda Ceresne, Barbara Cottrell, Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Making Changes, 9th Edition. 2015.

Lady Adding Post-It Note to Wall

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We have all experienced tension in our relationships. However, most relationships are not abusive. Domestic/intimate partner violence is not a disagreement or spat. It is a pattern of violence and abuse that occurs in intimate partner relationships. It is based on power and control. It is often about fear and intimidation.

Ask yourself…

“Am I afraid of my partner?”

No one deserves to be abused. The abuse is not your fault. If you have experienced abuse in your relationship, there are people who can help you. You can choose to make the decisions that are right for you. It takes a lot of courage and strength to face these issues. Help is available.

What can you do?

  • Learn more about the abuse you are experiencing: talk to your local domestic/intimate partner violence agency, do research online, talk to your friends and family about what they have observed
  • Talk with someone you trust about making a personal safety plan – a safety plan is made up of actions you can take to protect you and your loved ones
  • Talk to your supervisor who can assist in developing a workplace safety plan
  • Talk to your neighbours about your situation and ask them to call police if they are concerned
  • Know where your personal documents are (e.g. birth certificate, Social Security card, passport, citizenship papers, health cards for you and your children)
  • Determine who you can call and where you can go if you need to leave quickly (consider having extra car keys, money and an emergency bag set aside)
  • Talk with someone you trust because you do not need to be alone in this
  • Call a community agency, services office for individuals who have experienced domestic/intimate partner violence or police to find out what steps might increase your safetyNote: You can call a community agency or helpline and not give your name, whereas calls to police are not confidential
  • Consider finding a counsellor with expertise in domestic/intimate partner violence
  • Seek legal advice about your situation
  • Consider joining a group for people in or leaving an abusive relationship
  • Learn more about healthy relationships
  • Explore the option of getting a restraining order
  • For security reasons, consider providing your employer with a picture of the perpetrator and a copy of your protective order, if you have one
  • Work with your employer to respond to telephone, fax, email and mail harassment
  • Make sure your employer has your current emergency contact information
  • Consider removing your name and number from workplace directories
  • Review the safety of your parking arrangements – consider an escort to your car and park near the building entrance, if possible
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel afraid, ask for help to increase your safety
  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911 right away


  1. Cambridge Public Health Department. How to Respond to Employees Facing Domestic Violence: A Workplace Handbook for Managers, Supervisors, and Co-Workers.

Interlocking Hands Holding Arms

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You must always be sensitive and respect the privacy of colleagues who may be experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence. There are ways you can be supportive of your co-worker, who may be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship.

But I’m not the boss, I’m just a co-worker. What can I do?

As a co-worker, you may recognize the warning signs. Your role is to be supportive and to focus on safety.

Opening a conversation with someone who you think might be experiencing domestic/intimate partner violence is an important first step.

Always remember that safety is the priority at all times. If there is a clear threat to the workplace or an incident of workplace domestic/intimate partner violence, you must tell the appropriate authorities, such as the police and workplace security.

Before approaching a person you suspect is being abused, learn about the policies and procedures in your workplace, as well as community resources that are available. Identify an appropriate person in management that the person could talk to if he/she chooses to disclose further.

Always remember…

  • All discussions must occur in private – this is essential to build trust and ensure safety
  • Always acknowledge the person’s feelings
  • Know the resources in your community
  • Respect the person’s right to make decisions in his/her own life, when he/she is ready

Recognize Warning Signs and Symptoms

You may instinctively believe that a colleague may be experiencing domestic violence. To assist you in determining whether you should approach your colleague, see the “How to Recognize Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence in the Workplace” page on this site.

If you decide to approach your colleague, be aware that there are certain things that are appropriate to say in these circumstances and certain things that should not be said.

You can ask…

  • Is someone hurting you?
  • Did someone hurt you?
  • Are you afraid of your partner?
  • Has your partner ever hit/kicked/hurt you?
  • I have a friend whose partner tries to control everything they do. Is this happening to you?
  • Is there someone from a previous relationship who is making you feel unsafe now?

You can say…

  • I believe you.
  • It is safe to talk to me.
  • You are not alone. There are many people who have gone through this.
  • I care about you, and I know how hard it is to talk about this.
  • You don’t deserve to be hurt, you’ve done nothing wrong. This is not your fault.
  • What is happening is wrong.
  • You know best what your partner may do. It is always best to have a plan in place.
  • I can give you a number to call for help and advice.
  • You are not alone. How can I help you?
  • The City has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that allows you to speak with counsellors. These services are free and confidential.
  • Outside of the City, there are also some community resources that might be helpful

What not to say…

  • Why don’t you just leave?
  • Why did you return to your partner?
  • What did you do to provoke your partner?
  • Why did you wait so long to tell someone?

What to avoid…

  • Using labels (e.g. “You’re crazy to stay with your partner”)
  • Telling the person what to do
  • Discussing the person’s information with anyone else, unless you have his/her permission
  • Blaming the abused person

Other ways to support the person who may be at risk …

  • Spend break time with them
  • Listen to and believe them
  • Offer to screen the perpetrator’s phone calls or emails
  • Encourage them to save threatening voice mails or emails in case they are needed for future legal action


  1. Cambridge Public Health Department. How to Respond to Employees Facing Domestic Violence: A Workplace Handbook for Managers, Supervisors, and Co-Workers.
  2. Public Services Health & Safety Association. Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace: A Handbook, 2nd Edition. August 2010.
  3. Make It Our Business. Guidelines for communicating with employees at risk of workplace domestic violence. 2010.

If you feel unsafe at home because of abuse, there is a way to let people know you need assistance. The Signal for Help is a new online initiative that has been launched to help people experiencing violence related to home isolation during COVID-19. It is a simple hand gesture that someone living with abuse can silently display during video calls to alert friends, family or colleagues that they need assistance and want someone to check in with them in a safe way.

Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence & COVID-19

Since the onset of COVID-19, countries around the world are reporting an increase in domestic/intimate partner violence. We know that staying at home with our loved ones can be stressful for many of us. For people living in abusive relationships, safety issues are heightened and being at home can be even more dangerous. Women, girls and trans and non-binary people are at an increased risk of intimate partner violence, emotional abuse and sexual violence during this pandemic due to many factors. These could include increased stress and isolation due to physical distancing, fewer financial resources, and abusers monitoring devices and restricting access to services and supportive people. There are also fewer available shelter and support services.

How to use the Signal for Help

If you are teleworking and want to let people at work or in your personal life know you are concerned about your safety and need assistance, the following images and video from the Canadian Women’s Foundation shows you how you can use the Signal for Help on a video call.

Intimate partner violence hand signal 1: palm to camera and tuck thumb

1. Palm to camera and tuck thumb

Intimate partner violence hand signal 2: trap thumb

2. Trap thumb


How to help someone using the Signal for Help

If you see someone using the Signal for Help when you are on a call, please find a way to check in with the person safely and find out what they need and how they want you to assist them. You can do this by calling them. Make sure you ask if they can talk and ask simple questions or ones that require a yes or no response to find out how you can help. You can also find out if there is a better way to contact them safely such as by text, email or social media.


Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
The City of Toronto’s EAP, provided by TELUS Health, offers confidential short-term counselling, information and referral services to members of the Toronto Public Service and eligible family members. Call 1-833-382-5610 or 437-880-7228 (for City landline) – 24/7.

 Puzzle Piece with word "Health" on it
Employee Health and Rehabilitation
Employee Health and Rehabilitation provides multi-disciplinary expertise to the employee and the workplace when health-related issues impact on an employee’s ability to do his/her job. Call 416-392-7330.
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Where to Start

There are many places and people to call for help if you suspect or know you are in an abusive relationship. This PDF file, available for download, provides some resources to help you get started.


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Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence Resources
Many resources are available to provide guidance and support. This PDF file, available for download, provides a comprehensive list of resources. The City recognizes there are other forms of family violence and some of these resources may be helpful.


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Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence Poster
To raise awareness of this issue, please print and post this in your workplace.