Building Futures, Eradicating Violence: YWCA Toronto Addresses Intimate Partner Violence

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YWCA Toronto © Pexels/Kampus Productions

In a city as abundant as Toronto, safety and security should be inherent rights. And yet, instead of safety, dignity, and a safe place to call home, many women and gender diverse individuals find themselves trapped in cycles of abuse, seeking refuge.

YWCA Toronto has long been a source of support and unwavering hope for women, girls, and gender diverse people who have faced intimate partner violence (IPV). Grounded in intersectional feminism, community voices, social justice, collaboration, service excellence, and sustainability, YWCA Toronto is dedicated to improving lives and creating safe, equitable spaces.

From Crisis to Hope

The intersection of intimate partner violence and the housing crisis is a complex and deeply interconnected issue. Survivors of intimate partner violence often find themselves forced to leave their homes to escape abuse. Inversely, housing insecurity can act as a barrier to leaving an abusive relationship. This crisis is intensified when survivors lack the financial resources to secure new housing independently—many survivors of intimate partner violence face economic abuse, limiting their ability to find stable housing.

Police-reported cases of IPV have been on the rise—research from Statistics Canada shows that 2021 was the seventh consecutive year of increased cases, and due to complexity and stigma, IPV is largely underreported.

Violence against women and gender diverse people is not limited to intimate relationships.

YWCA Toronto provides a necessary lifeline to women, children and gender diverse people fleeing violence, offering emergency shelters and permanent, affordable housing solutions, along with other unique programming.

“Despite the initial shame and embarrassment, the support of the shelter staff helped me overcome feelings of helplessness and hopelessness,” said one YWCA Toronto participant. “Contrary to my preconceptions, the shelter provided a personal room that didn’t resemble the typical image I had in mind. Adjusting took time but conversations with my assigned worker shifted my perspective. I’m grateful for the staff. My son and I truly appreciate the assistance and support received, highlighting that shelters serve not only the less fortunate but anyone who could suddenly face loss.”

ywca toronto
© Courtesy of YWCA Toronto

A Powerful Voice

As service providers and advocates, YWCA Toronto uses its collective voice to call for systemic changes, pushing for access to safe, affordable, and reliable housing, and increased funding for the gender-based violence (GBV) sector.

YWCA Toronto is not silent on the systemic issues linked to intimate partner violence and the housing crisis. In December, YWCA Toronto led an open letter supported by 100+ organizations calling for the province to declare Intimate Partner Violence and Gender-Based Violence an epidemic.

The letter highlighted the devastating impacts of IPV, especially femicide, and urged the government to take immediate action to address this epidemic of violence, which claims lives and leaves countless survivors in its wake.

Recognizing the urgent need for affordable housing and enhanced support for survivors, YWCA Toronto has also advocated for greater access to safe, affordable and reliable housing for those fleeing violence, along with sustained, permanent operational funding for shelters and transitional housing. Additionally, YWCA is calling for a provincial roundtable dedicated to ending GBV, comprised of and led by the community, that ensures the transparency and accountability of the government in addressing GBV in all its forms.

By providing shelter, support, and advocacy, YWCA Toronto helps survivors rebuild their lives and actively works towards a society free of gender-based violence and housing insecurity. Their powerful calls for change are a rallying cry, bringing us one step closer to a world free from violence.

Visit ywcatoronto.org to learn more and find out how you can support this life-changing work. You can also find YWCA Toronto on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and X @YWCAToronto and @YWCATO.

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We help women, girls and gender diverse people flee violence, secure housing, find jobs, establish their voices, enhance skills and develop confidence. We offer a range of housing options, employment and training programs, community support programs, girls’ programs and family programs; we also engage in systemic advocacy.

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