Responding to Intimate Partner Violence: Refugee Assistance Program Workers

Download the Resource Guide

This resource guide has been prepared specifically for settlement workers in Refugee Assistance Programs to provide information to understand the complex situations of government-assisted refugee women in Ontario when they experience intimate partner violence (IPV). The guide will explore a holistic framework for understanding intimate partner violence that will include definitions, the unique risk factors that refugee women face and elements of a culturally competent response. It will present strategies and tools to use when violence is suspected, disclosed, or witnessed. RAP workers know the unique challenges and incredible triumphs that women and their families who are new to Ontario experience as they settle in our province. RAP workers have reported that government-assisted refugee women face problems such as:

  • A fear of being deported because they are not clear about their status in Canada.
  • A lack of information about the rights of women in Canada.
  • A lack of access to information regarding their legal rights and Canadian laws.
  • A lack of access to social services and support networks.
  • An experience of social and physical isolation.
  • Language barriers.
  • A fear of bringing shame to one’s family (all cultures have norms and values that reinforce this fear in some way).
  • A lack of awareness of the Direct Service Workers of the specific vulnerabilities of government-assisted refugee women.

While it might seem overwhelming to consider how to address violence in familial relationships, RAP workers understand that their clients will face significant barriers to successful settlement and adaptation to their new homes if issues of violence are not addressed. We hope that this guide will be a tool that can enrich the capacity of RAP workers to provide excellent quality services to government-assisted refugees.
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Listen to the 30 Minute Resource Guide Utilization Webinar

As you are preparing to read through the content found within this guide, you might consider listening to the webinar which has been created to:

  • Introduce Ontario resettlement assistance program (RAP) service providers to the guide
  • Highlight the rationale and importance for recognizing and responding to intimate partner violence
  • Outline the primary components of the guide

The webinar also makes reference to a Resource Guide Utilization Plan which is available for you to explore the ways in which this material can effectively be integrated into the course of your service delivery.

Resource Guide Utilization Checklist

Use this checklist to create a Recognition and Response Plan. It can help you to think through challenges you may face in doing this work and become a quick reference for your agency guidelines and resources in your community.