Nova Scotia

Are you facing intimate partner violence? Here are some N.S. resources that can help

There are resources available in Nova Scotia to those experiencing intimate partner violence and need assistance escaping their situations and getting to a safer place.

If you need help and are in immediate danger, call 911

Across Canada, there are 100,000 victims of domestic violence each year, and about 90 people die annually at the hands of their abuser. (Shutterstock)

This story is part of Stopping Domestic Violence, a CBC News series looking at the crisis of intimate partner violence in Canada and what can be done to end it.

There are resources available in Nova Scotia to those experiencing intimate partner violence and need assistance escaping their situations and getting to a safer place.

Transitional housing

There are several transitional shelters in the province that provide a safe place for women seeking refuge, including 13 locations through the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia (THANS) in Sydney, Waycobah, Port Hawkesbury, Antigonish, New Glasgow, Amherst, Truro, Millbrook, Halifax, Bridgewater, Yarmouth, Digby and Kentville.

If you are seeking help or are looking for information about abuse, you can call the 24-hour toll-free line at 1-855-225-0220.

THANS says they "provide a full range of support services to women and their children in a safe, supportive environment and … provide survivors of violence with opportunities to learn about available resources and alternatives to facilitate informed personal choices and decisions," according to their website.

Find a shelter near you and their contact information if you're living outside of Halifax.

If you're in Halifax, you can contact the HRM location, Bryony House, directly through their distress line at 902-422-7650, main shelter number at 902-423-7183, or website.

There's also transitional housing available through Adsum Centre in Lakeside, which provides communal living space, support and programming to 16 residents and their children. Staff is available 24/7 to provide support and lead programs. The focus is on addressing barriers that have led to residents' experiences of homelessness.

To learn more, contact Adsum Centre directly at 902-876-5011 or by email at adsumcentre@adsumforwomen.org.

If you need help moving your belongings safely, the national non-profit Shelter Movers has opened a chapter in Nova Scotia. Teams of volunteers act as a free moving service for women and children fleeing abuse, while they remain safe in a shelter or other location. Storage, pet fostering and translation services are arranged as required.

Contact info.ns@sheltermovers.com for more information.

Second-stage housing

For those looking to move to a more long-term place, second-stage housing offers safe and affordable housing for abused women and their children that can be found through your local transition house.

Find contact information for various housing organizations in Antigonish, Halifax, New Glasgow, and Sydney. There is also the Welkaqanik Next Step Shelter in Truro, which can be reached at 902-895-1738.

There are also long-term affordable housing options in Halifax and Dartmouth through the Adsum network: Adsum Court and The Alders. Adsum also owns a few condominiums in Clayton Park that are rented to single moms and their families.

Emergency shelters

There are a few options for emergency shelters in Nova Scotia for those who are homeless, or have nowhere else safe to go.

In Halifax, there is the Adsum House women and youth shelter on Brunswick Street. It also welcomes anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, or gender-queer, and is open 24/7. Adsum House offers support from client workers, home-cooked meals, access to community resources and help finding safe housing.

For more information, email adsum@adsumforwomen.org or phone 902-423-4443 if you need emergency help.

Other options in Halifax include Barry House for women and their children (902-422-8324), and the Out of the Cold emergency winter shelter for men and women (902-225-0770).

Pet programs

For animal owners looking for a safe space to house their pets while leaving a violent situation, they have some options depending on where they live in Nova Scotia.

In the Halifax region, the Nova Scotia SPCA has launched a free pilot project called Paws & Support. While they're with the SPCA, owned pets will receive veterinary care and live with trained temporary foster families. Once an owner is in a healthy, safe space, they will be reunited with their pet.

Get in touch via e-mail at pawssupport@spcans.ca or call 1-844-835-4798.

In Amherst, N.S., there's the Cumberland SafePet program where Autumn House, the Amherst Veterinary Hospital and the Lillian Albion Animal Shelter have teamed up to ensure those in a domestic situation can also have their pets fostered in the community.

Visit autumnhouse.ca/contact to email the shelter for more information, or call the 24 hour crisis line at 902-667-1200.

Police supports

Nova Scotia RCMP have a victim services program to support victims of all crime types including intimate partner violence. The victim services volunteers are trained to support, give information and make referrals for community resources, according to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke.

If an intimate partner violence file is considered a high risk for reoffence, they are managed by six high-risk case co-ordinators in Nova Scotia. Four are with the RCMP, one is with Cape Breton Regional Police, and one is with Halifax Regional Police.

Within the RCMP, Clarke said their case co-ordinators work with service providers like transition homes, corrections, family services and men's treatment programs. Safety planning is updated when new information is received, including case conferences with the victim and the service providers.

Cases that are not high risk are handled by RCMP victim services volunteers.

Halifax Regional Police also have a domestic violence officer (DVO), who is trained in a trauma-informed approach and is knowledgeable of the complexities of domestic violence, said spokesperson Const. John MacLeod. 

This officer focuses on domestic violence cases where there is a high risk to reoffend, and can connect the offender to the domestic violence navigator program, which was established to help offenders who "want to make changes in their lives and heal their relationships with family and loved ones," and provide support, co-ordinate cases and assist with referrals to service providers.

Intervention programs

There are various counselling programs available throughout the province for men who have been violent in their relationships or affected by abuse, as well as women.

Find a program near you.

Domestic violence leave

Nova Scotia offers partially paid leave for those experiencing domestic violence. An employee who has worked for their employer for at least three months can take up to 10 intermittent or consecutive days per year, or up to 16 consecutive weeks.

Domestic violence leave can be used to seek medical attention, receive counselling, obtain victim services support, or seek legal or law enforcement assistance.

People can apply for paid leave by giving written notice to their employer and providing them the anticipated start and end date of the leave. The employer may also request an application through the Labour Standards Division.

Domestic violence court

All provinces and territories have established domestic violence courts so that the justice system can improve its response to abuse, provide better support to victims and make offenders more accountable, according to the federal government.

In Nova Scotia, there are courts in both Sydney and Halifax where those 18 and older can attend. The program allows for the input of people who have been affected by the abuse and programming options to help address the violence.

To participate, the person charged with domestic violence must be willing to accept responsibility for their actions. Generally, this means entering a guilty plea. If the offender has completed their rehabilitation plan by the end of the process, the designated judge sentences the individual, taking into account their participation.

Victims are not required to meet with their abusive partner in this program, since no one single approach fits everyone. 

"The program strives to be flexible and responsive to people's needs, what is necessary for them to be safe, to achieve just outcomes and for offenders to be accountable for their behaviour," according to the Courts of Nova Scotia website.

Other helpful links and information

For those dealing with abuse, women's and family resource centres across Nova Scotia can connect them to various supports like counselling, advocacy, housing, mental-health supports, child care, community activities and more.

If you are a newcomer to Canada, or want to share important information with someone who speaks another language, read about family law, criminal law, human rights, domestic abuse and more in Arabic, French, Farsi, Mandarin, Nepali, Russian, Spanish and Tagalog.

Those looking for culturally-relevant Indigenous services can get in touch with the Mi'kmaw Family Healing Centre in Millbrook at 902-893-8483, or We'koqma'q at 902-756-3440. If you are in Halifax, there is the Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre at 902-420-1576.

For more on legal aid, victim services, employment services and sexual assault, this resource map shows more information centres near you.

If you need help and are in immediate danger, call 911.