Protective Systems that Don’t Protect Abuse Survivors

Welcome to Right-On with HFG Happy Families Support Network Inc. (HFG)

HFG is a not-for-profit support group that provides ongoing support to women and children who have experienced abuse

HFG is a free support group for women and children who have experienced abuse, run by women who have experienced abuse

The topic for today is – Protective Systems that Don’t Protect Abuse Survivors

It’s more important for your son to spend time with his father than it is for him to spend time with youFamily Court Judge

  1. Your time with your son is spent rushing. School or work, homework, shower, bed time…where is your downtime/fun time?

It’s your fault he’s doing this to you. You know he gets mood swingsPolice Officer

  1. How is abuse your fault? Is PMS an excuse for violence? NO? Then why is mood swings an excuse for abuse?
  2. Is it also your fault when your Ex follows you home from work to get your new address?

Your husband loves you. You need to be very careful of what you’re doing as you may lose your childCAS Social Worker

  1. Why is the Social Worker saying ‘husband’ when it is known that he’s your ‘ex-husband’?
  2. How can the Social Worker talk about love when there is documented proof of the abuse? How is that love?

Are you sure that’s what happened?Police Officer

You do not qualify for legal aidLegal Aid Ontario

  1. Most women leaving an abusive relationship do not have enough money to retain a lawyer
  2. The financial eligibility criteria for Legal Aid Ontario are very restrictive and does not allow enough time per case
  3. When you don’t qualify for legal aid…where do you turn? Especially when domestic violence is an issue

You cannot have a new legal aid certificate for a new lawyerLegal Aid Ontario

  1. Your court case is not complete, how will you manage without a lawyer?

You must give generous access to the father or you will not get sole custodyFamily Court Judge

  1. You have to choose between giving more time for your children to be abused and keeping sole custody
  2. Joint custody with your abuser or sole custody to your abuser is not a safe option for you or your children

Court documents served at place of employment, accepted by reception. Documents NOT in an envelopeEx’s Families Lawyer

Children get rashes all the timeFamily Doctor

  1. You’re not neurotic, you know children get rashes, but this rash came suddenly and your child is uncomfortable
  2. You got a second opinion and the rash turned out to be an allergic reaction to penicillin

Your son said he loves spending time with his dad so the access stays as isOffice of the Children’s Lawyer (OCL)

  1. Of course your son said he liked spending time with his dad. If not, who’d protect him when they are alone and unsupervised?
  2. Who would protect your child for the regular weekend access?
  3. You are not a disgruntled Ex, you are simply doing your job and trying to keep your children safe

You will never find another man who does so many good things for you and your child despite the abuseYour mother

  1. Is abuse really what you want for your daughter and grandchild?
  2. Do you really think this is the best your daughter can do?
  3. Aren’t parents supposed to want only the very best for their children?

This doesn’t seem like much, you only have this one bruise on your legShelter Case Worker

I don’t speak your language, you need to come here with an interpreterOntario Works Worker

If your child is important to you, you will find the money to get yourself a LawyerFamily Court Judge

Court orders for child support unpaid for over one year and nothing done. New order for support receivedFamily Court Judge

Many phone calls to Family Responsibility Office (FRO) nothing seem to happen, no support payment receivedFRO

  1. You provided FRO with new employment information, licence number and new address – still nothing done

This is only a minor infraction Police Officer

  1. Restraining Order ineffective, assaulted by abuser on doorstep
  2. Received numerous (35) harassing phone calls, texts and emails in one hour
  3. Abuser standing outside grocery store…doesn’t live in your area

I will give you a prescription for the depressionFamily Doctor

  1. Prescribing a pill for depression won’t work if the “depression” is because you are being abused

When the hours are up, I get off the file. I cannot afford to work for freeLegal Aid Lawyer

Where are the psychologists who studied behaviour and can see when children are crying out for help?

Where are the Police Officers who are tasked with keeping you safe?

Where are the Judges who will make unbiased decisions in your family’s case?

Where are the lawyers who will handle your case and see you as people and not as dollar signs?

Where are all the lawyers who understand the issues of abuse?

Where are the Social Workers who make unbiased decisions in the best interest of your children?

Where are all the professionals who are trained to see the red flags of abuse? Are there any such people?

How are you supposed to feel safe after leaving an abusive relationship? How can you keep your children safe?

Some professionals’ responses to situations of domestic abuse further victimize the victims & sometimes put them in danger

When you speak up about domestic abuse, you just want to be treated with respect, concern, and be protected not judged

In a perfect world, you can depend on people and systems in place to assist you when you leave an abusive relationship

What if you live in our imperfect world? Where everyone have biases even if they don’t know they do? What then?

What if people go wild with their sense of power & choose based on their biases, who gets help & who doesn’t?

Remember that when you leave the abusive relation the abuse continues. The type of abuse may change but abuse doesn’t stop

Your biggest concern after leaving an abusive relationship is how to keep your children and yourself safe

Helping Professionals should keep in mind that safety is your biggest concern when leaving an abusive relationship


Join the conversation. Email your stories, comments and questions to

Thanks for joining Right-On with HFG

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday January 14, 2015 for our weekly Right-On conversation

The topic for next week is – Stages of Abuse

If you would like your story featured in next Wednesday’s Right-On please email your story to Leonie Segall at

Please email your questions and comments to

If you would like more information on the HFG support group please email

Have a great day! HFG Hugs!!

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