A new online tool was launched Thursday designed to let victims of domestic abuse know that help is available.
ShelterSafe.ca features an interactive map of shelters as well as a list of 24-hour crisis lines across Canada, said Lise Martin, executive director of the Canadian Network of Women's Shelters and Transition Houses.
"Every situation is different, but a woman who has made the decision to leave abuse is often giving up many things – from her home to her livelihood," Martin said.
"It's a very traumatic experience."
The goal is to provide an easily navigable resource, she said.
"For us, it was really crucial that there be one place that has reliable and up-to-date information on shelters," she said.
"There is so much information available on the net, but sometimes it's difficult to find, difficult to decipher."
Martin also said that, in many circumstances, help lines represent the first point of contact for women trying to reach out.
"It can be the first time they're believed, so that is important," she said.
Martin said that abusers can come across as nice people in public, which then makes victims blame themselves.
In addition to the physical and sexual signs of abuse, Martin said that overly controlling and jealous actions could also constitute abusive behaviour.
The ShelterSafe.ca site features a "Hide Page" button that redirects users to the Weather Network. The map also limits the level of zoom so as not to betray the shelter locations.