Frequently Asked Questions

Need to speak with someone safe?

Call or text our 24/7 support line to speak with a counsellor: 905.684.8331

Centre de santé cummunautaire: 24/7 Service en francais: 1.877.336.2433

Have questions?

Chat with our experienced support team today.

We are here to help

What are your fees?

All of our services are completely free to access.  

How old do I have to be to access your shelter and services?

Gillian’s Place provides safe shelter and services to those affected by gender-based violence, aged 16 and older. 

My partner is not a man. Can you help me?

Abuse can happen in any relationship regardless of gender. If you are a woman or non-binary indvidual experiencing abuse, we can help you.

I'm a male experiencing abuse. What support is available for me?

ivOur mandate at Gillian’s Place is to provide support for women, non-binary indviduals and children.  A list of resources for men can be found here.

Do I need to be in crisis or danger to call your support line?

No. Abuse can take many forms, and often starts with emotional or psychological abuse before becoming physical. Our support line is also open to anyone who might be looking for advice on how to help a loved one. 

I haven't been physically abused. Can I still get help?

Yes. There are many types of abuse and they can all have a long-lasting impact on you and your children. 

I don't need to stay in your shelter. Can I still get help?

Yes. Call our support line any time, day or night for immediate support. Our counsellors will assess your situation and provide the appropriate referrals to service. Providing shelter is only one of our services. 

I have accessed your services in the past. Am I able to come back?

Whether you are with the same partner or a new one, we are always here for you.

Can you help individuals who have addictions?

Gillian’s Place staff are here to support all women who have experienced domestic violence and understand that women who have experienced violence are at a higher risk for substance abuse and also face increased vulnerability to violence. If you choose to use drugs or alcohol, this decision will not alter our commitment to helping and supporting you as long as your behaviours do not create a safety risk for yourself or our other clients. Our shelter uses a “Harm Reduction” model of service aimed at reducing the negative consequences associated with drug abuse. If you would like to reduce or stop your drug use, we have a worker from Community Addiction Services of Niagara (CASON) on-site once per week to provide support, and we are also able to connect you with other community agencies to provide you with service and support. 

Can you help individuals with mental health concerns?

Individuals experiencing domestic violence or abuse experience mental health issues at a much higher rate than the general population. A history of mental illness will not stop you from receiving support.

Can you help individuals with disabilities?

Our shelter is fully accessible. We encourage you to share information regarding accommodations you may require while accessing our shelter or outreach programs. We are also able to connect you with other community resources if additional assistance is required.

Can you provide services in languages other than English?

Yes. We can get the help of interpreters so that we can provide services in your language.


Do I need to call ahead to access your shelter?

Though it is always best to call ahead, this is not always possible.  You can come to our door any time, day or night. 

Does Gillian's Place provide transporation to the shelter?

If you do not have safe transportation to the shelter, and you live in the Niagara Region, we can assist with transportation. We also provide bus tickets if you are attending appointments in the community while residing in the shelter. There is a bus stop right in front of our building.  

How long can I stay at Gillian's Place?

The average stay for most is about 35 days. This varies based on a variety of factors including securing safe and affordable housing when you leave here. Our staff will create a transition plan with you to ensure that you are set up for success when you move out of shelter. Gillian’s Place also offers transitional housing in West Niagara for women who need a bit more time to find permanent housing. 

What is "Transitional Housing" ?

Some need a little extra time finding and securing safe and affordable, permanent housing. Gillian’s Place offers transitional units in West Niagara where women can stay up to a year while they sort out housing, employment, etc. Rent for these units is determined based on our income. If there is availability in one of our transitional units, our staff will help to determine your eligibility.

Can I bring my pets?

Service animals are welcome at Gillian’s Place with the appropriate papers. All other animals must be sheltered elsewhere.  If leaving your pet behind is a barrier to accessing our services, please call our support line and we will help you make arrangements for your pet. 

Am I able to leave the shelter to go to work, or visit family and friends?

Yes. Our counsellors will create a safety plan with you to ensure that you are taking every precaution to keep yourself safe while you are not in the shelter, and as an increased precaution, we ask all residents to advise counsellors of their whereabouts when leaving the shelter.  

Can I have visitors?

To protect the confidentiality of all of our clients, we do not allow visitors.  If you have children that do not regularly reside with you, we can arrange access visits with your dependents. 

What about my children?

What is it like to live in the shelter?

We know that leaving your home and belongings is difficult. At Gillian’s Place, we work hard to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible.

Do you provide child care?

Yes. Pre-arranged childcare is available should you need to attend appointments while residing in the shelter. Our Child & Youth Department also provides regular programming for children including groups, outdoor play, and arts and crafts.

Can I lose custody of my children if I stay in the shelter?

Staying in the shelter will not affect the custody of your children.

Can I bring my male children?

Male children and youth who are your dependents are able to stay with you in the shelter (in most instances) and access services through our Child and Youth program up to the age of 18. 

Are my children able to continue to attend school while staying in the shelter?

As long as it is safe to do so, your children can still attend school while living at Gillian’s Place.  In some cases, we are able to arrange transportation to your child’s regular school.  If this is not possible, we can assist with accessing safe schooling elsewhere. 

Will Child Protective Services (FACS) get involved if I have children?

Every family’s situation is different.  In most cases, Family and Children’s Services can be a support to you and your children during this difficult time. Gillian’s Place respects and upholds your confidentiality, but has a legal obligation to report any situation where the safety of a child is at-risk. More details about your confidentiality and our duty to report can be found in the video below:

Legal concerns

Will I lose my home if I leave?

There is no such thing as abandonment if you leave the home. If you are married you will not lose any legal rights that you have to the matrimonial home when you leave however, you should seek legal advice as there are limitation periods to pursue your legal rights. If you are in a common-law relationship only the person whose name is on the title has the right to reside at the residence unless there is a legal agreement stating otherwise. 

Is it kidnapping to leave my home and admit to the shelter with my children?

It is not kidnapping to leave your home and admit to a shelter in your region with your children. If there is already a court order or separation agreement in place about custody of your children it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

I cannot support myself (or children) financially. Can you help me with spousal/child support?

You may be entitled to child support depending on who the children are residing with and your income and your partner’s income.

You may be entitled to spousal support. Factors that are considered when determining spousal support include, but are not limited to, your income, your spouse's income and the length of your relationship.  You can contact our lawyer to speak about your situation.

I cannot afford a lawyer. Will Gillian's Place represent me in court?

Gillian’s Place cannot represent you in court, however, our lawyer can provide you with legal advice and assistance with completing and reviewing legal papers.

I am afraid for my safety. Can I get a restraining order against my partner?

There are situations where you can get a restraining order against your partner to prevent him from coming to your home or contacting you after you have separated. Contact our family lawyer to review your options. If you have a restraining order, including a bail order, probation order or peace bond against your partner and they are not following the order you can call the police and if they have reasonable grounds to believe an offence has occurred they can arrest your partner. You can contact our lawyer to review this process if you have questions.

What can I do to help?

I was a client of Gillian’s Place and am grateful for the help I received. I would like to share my story. How can I do this?

Gillian’s Place is grateful for women who are in a position to share how Gillian’s Place positively impacted their lives and futures. If you would like to share your story, please contact our Development and Communications Coordinator at 905.684.4000 ext. 255 or

I would love to help by volunteering my time. What kind of volunteer opportunities do you have?

Why don't you accept gently-used donations?

We simply do not have the capacity to sort and store used donations. Thankfully, we have partnerships with several community agencies, including The Christian Benefit Shop and St. Vincent de Paul who will gladly take your gently used items on our behalf. We are also grateful for donations of gift cards so that we can purchase exactly what our clients need when they need it.

How can I learn more about gender-based violence and the work of Gillian's Place?

Knowledge is power, and raising awareness of this often-overlooked issue is critical in realizing our vision that women and children are free from violence and abuse. Gillian’s Place is happy to meet with you to discuss our services, or to provide greater insight into the intricacies of intimate partner violence. We will meet with you one-on-one or present to your recreation, service or church group, employees or classroom. Please contact our Manager of Quality & Engagement Jami Coughler at 905.684.4000 ext. 235 or for more information.

I would like to donate. How can I do this?

Gillian’s Place relies on the generosity of our community to fund more than 30% of our programs and services. There are many ways to provide financial support. Some of the ways can be found here, but we are always open to discussing new ways to fundraise. If you have an idea or suggestion, please contact

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