Family Shelter for Abused Men and Children

Will You Help Build Toronto’s First Family Shelter for Male Victims of Domestic Violence and their Children

Visit Our GoFundMe Campaign Page Now for Additional Info, Videos from Male Survivors and to Support this Project

Justin Trottier
Executive Director,  Canadian Centre for Men and Families | 647-479-9611

You Can be the Lifeline for Fathers and Children Living in Fear

Imagine you and your child live each day in fear of violence, but no one believes you because you’re a man. That is the situation for thousands of fathers every year, and for over 400 men who reached out to our agency in 2017 alone.

Although it may be hard to believe, Statistics Canada data and sociological research is clear: men suffer domestic abuse at rates comparable to women, yet their access to vital support services including crisis centres and emergency counselling is almost non-existent.

The critical missing piece are domestic abuse shelters for fathers and children. Single father families are the fastest growing family form in Canada. Yet while the caregiving role of dads quickly expands, fathers who are suffering violence in the home still have no safe place where they can escape with their children.

The Canadian Centre for Men and Families will bring the first shelter for abused men and children to Toronto. This would be the first of its kind in Eastern Canada and the first to be built in a major metropolitan municipality anywhere in North America. We are excited to report we have reached $175,000 toward our goal of $400,000, an amount necessary to establish a home for abused men and children.

We have been preparing for this moment for four years and with our increasing community profile, the Canadian Centre for Men and Families is in the best position ever to succeed. Here is a quick status update:

* We are a valued community partner and go-to agency for referrals from Toronto Police, Toronto Victim Services, hospitals, community health centres and a wide variety of other agencies.
* Legal Aid Ontario has authorized us to provide legal aid certificates to male victims of domestic abuse.
* Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, the nation’s largest victim support agency, has partnered with us to supply clothing and other vital goods to men and families in crisis.
* We are regularly invited to run workshops for agencies looking to improve support for male victims, including the CMHA and the Ontario Network of Domestic Violence Treatment Centres.

These remarkable developments signal a breakthrough in public awareness that domestic abuse must be treated as a gender-inclusive family health issue. Family violence is often intergenerational and the gender of the perpetrator may change from one generation to the next. Breaking the cycle of family violence by supporting both men and women will improve the health of children, families and communities.

The time has come for us to take a bold step. Your support is absolutely critical for us to capitalize on the foundation that has been built. That’s why we are asking you to please make a gift to this landmark initiative and work with us to bring the first shelter for abused men and children to Canada’s largest city. All donations receive a charity receipt, which means you could get up to 40% back in tax benefits.

“Domestic violence against men is frequent and significant, and a rarely acknowledged fact.”
Rita Demontis, Men also suffer from domestic abuse, Sun newspapers across Canada, June 24 2016.


Proposal Overview

Our objectives are:

* To provide 24/7 community-based emergency shelter and crisis support services for men and their dependents who have experienced violence and/or abuse;
* To provide crisis phone counselling, including assistance with safety planning, providing information on rights, options and available services, referrals and system navigation; and
* To support safety planning for men and their dependents who are experiencing violence and/or abuse, and to help address their immediate safety concerns.

Services and supports will include:

* Temporary safe and secure shelter residence
* Provision of residential supports (food, blankets, hygiene products)
* Emergency case management
* Emergency trauma counselling
* Services through the crisis phone line
* Assisting with housing applications
* Development of safety strategies or plans for men and their children
* Outreach and advocacy on behalf of men and their children
* Male survivors of domestic abuse support group
* Legal Clinic
* Fathering After Separation or Divorce
* Drop-in peer support group
* Referrals or linking men to alternative accommodations and services

This is a pilot project and will act as a proof of concept demonstration for the government and other possible funders. The Shelter will be established in collaboration with the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the City of Toronto, all of whom fund services for abuse victims. In preparing the vision for our shelter, we researched shelter best practices and reached out to a wide variety of agencies, including Toronto homeless men’s shelters and we consulted with officials from the Violence Against Women department within the Ministry of Community and Social Services. They connected us with the Executive Directors of various GTA-based VAW shelters from whom we have since received support and documentation.

We intend to operate as similarly as possible to existing Violence Against Women (VAW) shelters, according to the same Shelter Standards established by the Ministry of Community and Social Services [1]. The goal is to establish a partnership with the Ministry and the VAW community. In order to facilitate future financial support of the shelter by the government, it is critical that the government be a partner from the beginning and available to advise on the proper setup of the shelter. This approach will put us in the best possible position to apply for financial support from the government within the next 2 years. This approach will also help establish the legitimacy of shelters for abused men, leading our Shelter to be seen as a model that could catalyze other agencies to emulate its example.

The proposed space is a house or a mixed-use commercial/residential property. The residential/shelter space will accommodate up to four families at any given time, which will include space for at least two families with up to two children each, for a total accommodation of at least 8 individuals. The facility will operate as an emergency or short-term shelter, with stays not to exceed 90 days barring exceptional circumstances.

The Case for a Shelter for Abused Men and their Children

Rates of Abuse and Violence

We have long known that domestic violence spans all ethnicities, ages and socioeconomic status. Now we are increasingly aware that domestic violence also spans all genders, gender identities and sexual orientations.

The largest study on domestic violence ever completed, known as The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project (PASK), summarized 1,700 peer-reviewed studies, concluding:

“The most comprehensive review of the scholarly domestic violence research literature ever conducted concludes, among other things, that women perpetrate physical and emotional abuse, and engage in control behaviors, at comparable rates to men” [2]

Back in 2004, The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence of the Government of Canada published a document entitled “Intimate Partner Abuse Against Men.” [3] This document served to synthesize the government’s findings to date on men and domestic violence. The document acknowledged that men have always been a significant group within the domestic violence population. It referred to earlier studies conducted in 1987 which found that 23.3% of surveyed women acknowledged they had physically abused their intimate partners at least once in the previous year [4]. The document went on to further characterize the violence, stating “like all previous studies of intimate partner abuse, the GSS findings indicate that abuse was not an isolated event: 54% of these male victims had experienced spousal violence more than once in the preceding period. In fact, 13% of them had experienced it more than 10 times.” [5]

From the time Statistics Canada first started collecting data on family violence with its 1999 General Social Survey (GSS) the similar rates of male and female victimization were immediately apparent, with 7% of men and 8% of women reporting victimization [6].

Fast forward to 2014. According to the 2014 General Social Survey on Family Violence, the most recent Statistics Canada survey on domestic abuse, a nearly equal proportion of men and women reported having experienced spousal violence within the preceding five years, specifically 342,000 women and 418,000 men [7].

Access to Critical Services and Support

The same 2014 General Social Survey report concluded that despite similar levels of victimization ever since research began, male victims continue to be significantly less likely to have access to essential support services like counselling, crisis centres, victim services or domestic abuse shelters. This leads to severe implications for these men, their children and our communities.

The following chart is reproduced from Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile (2014). [8]

The Government of Canada document “Shelters for abused men in Canada, 2014” found that in 2013/2014 there were 627 shelters that offered services to abused women and only 6% of these venues allowed the admission of adult men [9]. Note that this amounts to only 36 shelters across Canada, and includes emergency shelters which offer only short term (1 to 3 days) and mix both abused and non-abused individuals. The data on how many abused men are resident in a shelter dedicated to domestic abuse does not exist but must be incredibly small.




Will Men and their Families Actually Use a Shelter?

This proposal may sound ambitious, but it is not unprecedented. The Men’s Resource Centre in Winnipeg provides a shelter for men and their children who are fleeing domestic abuse. In the last 12 month period, they registered 830 bednights for men and children. This included 47 men and 60 children. They are regularly at capacity. Meanwhile the Taylor House in Batesville, Arkansas, with a population of 40,000, operates a shelter with 9 beds in 3 rooms. Since they opened in 2015, utilization has increased as people become aware of the services and connections are made in community. They have been at capacity for the last six months and have had to start turning men away due to capacity issues. The scale of the shelter we are proposing would be similar to these operations, but operating in a hugely more populous location. We also know that 25% of calls to shelter helplines in the United States are from men. Finally, although we do not operate a shelter or market ourself as a shelter in any way, we already receive an average of 5-6 calls each week from men who contact us looking for shelter as domestic abuse victims.

Budget and Financial Plan

We are looking to raise $400,000, which would include full capital costs and subsidize the expansion of our agency’s current budget to cover the first year of operations at the new facility.

A detailed budget, Financial Statements for the agency, and a full Project Plan are available upon request.






[4] Lupri, “Harmonie und Aggression”: 480 (Table 1)., and E. Lupri, “Why Does Family Violence Occur?” In Everyday Life: A Reader, edited by L. Tepperman and J. Curtis (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1992): 289-300.

[5]Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2000 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada; Catalogue no. 85-224-XIE, 2000): 14

[6] Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2000 (Ottawa: Statistics Canada; Catalogue no. 85-224-XIE, 2000): 9.

[7] Source:

[8] Section 1: Trends in self-reported spousal violence in Canada, 2014


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