A Safe Space for Seniors


Photo © Pexels/Anna Shvets

003GHN Senior Safety Line

24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the Assaulted Women’s Helpline provides telephone and TTY crisis line counselling, online counselling, safety planning, emotional support, information, and referrals in over 200 languages. The Helpline is often the first point of contact for abused women, especially for those whose vulnerability is exacerbated by isolation, language barriers, or disability.

The Seniors Safety Line (SSL) is a program of the Assaulted Women’s Helpline and has been in operation for over a decade. SSL is the only 24/7 crisis and support line for seniors in Ontario who have experienced any type of abuse or neglect. Callers receive emotional support, safety planning, information, and referrals in over 200 languages. Relatives, friends, and caregivers can also call the SSL to help them support the seniors in their lives.

We are a safe and inclusive space that supports the rights of older adults.

The Seniors Safety Line is an accessible and inclusive telephone-based program that is ‘senior-friendly’ with a live counsellor. Trained professional counsellors help seniors navigate difficult systems and provide a one-stop resource for information, support, connection to services and programs and, where required, direct intervention. These personal interactions enhance callers’ social and emotional wellbeing and overall quality of life.

Elder abuse is complex and it is seldom isolated. Elder abuse is recurring in 80 percent of cases. Typically the abuser is a relative or someone known to the senior. Affected seniors often feel ashamed and do not view what is happening to them as abuse. As such, SSL also plays a key role in increasing community awareness and community capacity to address the issue of elder abuse through public education and the coordination of resources. These resources include fact sheets to help bystanders recognize the warning signs of abuse and how to respond safely and effectively.

In its over 12 years of operation, the SSL has helped well over 90,000 callers. The majority of callers, 86 percent, are seniors themselves. Their reasons for calling have been remarkably consistent over the years, with emotional abuse and financial abuse cited by 75 percent of callers.

Since the COVID-19 shut down, we have seen a significant increase in calls from older adults who are socially isolated and at a higher risk of experiencing elder abuse. Many others have called because they are having difficulty coping and have heightened levels of anxiety. Still, others are unsure as to what services are still available and how to access them.

Throughout the pandemic, SSL counsellors have been supporting seniors in any way possible. From being a friendly voice to speak to over the phone, to providing information about how to deal with difficult situations, to reassurance and validation, SSL is a valuable resource for seniors and concerned friends and family members. With your help, we will continue to be there for seniors beyond the pandemic.

Visit awhl.org/seniors to learn more.

Call toll-free at 1-866-299-1011

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The Seniors Safety Line is the only 24 hour crisis and support line for seniors in Ontario who have experienced any type of abuse or neglect.  Callers receive emotional support, safety planning, information and referrals in over 200 languages.  The Seniors Safety Line (SSL) is a “senior friendly” service with a live counsellor available to help navigate often difficult sytems, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.


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