Emergency Shelter

A safe, comfortable place to stay when you need it most. 

Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region offers two emergency shelters for women experiencing domestic violence: Anselma House located in Kitchener and Haven House located in Cambridge. Each shelter, home to 45 beds, provides a warm and secure place to work through and beyond domestic violence. 

Who can access shelter services

The shelter is available for women* aged 16+ and their children experiencing domestic violence within the Waterloo Region who have no safe place to stay. We service all cities and townships within the region.

If a mother has children under 18 years of age, of any gender, they are welcome at the shelter. If you have any questions, please contact us and we can help you.

 *Women’s Crisis Services supports women, transgender and gender diverse individuals.


What to expect at the shelter

  • Support is available to you 24/7, this includes legal needs, housing, parenting, or transitioning towards independence
  • Ongoing support is provided both one-on-one and through groups
  • Education on domestic violence and violence against women
  • Food and nutrition programs
  • Child and youth programming
  • Employment search
  • Safety planning

Programs In Shelter

Through various programs and partnerships we offer specialized services for women and children experiencing domestic violence in our community.

Child and Family Therapy

The Child and Family Therapist is available for children, adolescents and families who may need additional support in healing from their experience. As you work to move through and beyond violence, some struggles such as anxiety, self-esteem, behavioural concerns, anger, parenting or family communication support as a result of trauma may come up.

Child and Youth Program

Our Child and Youth Program offers emotional and psychological support for our youngest in-shelter residents. Supporting children in their healing, our child and youth staff members work with moms and children to enhance and support their relationship, communication, conflict resolution, and emotional regulation. Nearly half of our shelter residents are children, which is why we have countless programs available to support them through this transition.

Clinical Psychologist

Designed to help women address the impact domestic violence had on them, our clinical psychologist is available to women both in-shelter and in the outreach program. Women are able to address a variety of issues they may face including mental health concerns, coping strategies, and mental health resources within the community.

Addictions Support

Our Addictions Specialist is available to assist shelter residents who are struggling with substance use. The Addictions Specialist connects with clients around safety planning, safe-use, harm reduction, withdrawal, abstinence or recovery, and relapse prevention. Wherever you are in your journey, our Addictions Specialist is here to help you along the way.

Food and Nutrition Programming

Not only does the dedicated food and nutrition team prepare well-balanced meals for our residents, they also offer programming to help the clients with meal planning and shopping on a budget. Our team works with the women to help them prepare for life after the shelter, and for many women in the shelter, cooking with the team provides them a fun-filled bonding opportunity.

Moving Beyond Group

Moving Beyond is an in-shelter group that allows participants the opportunity to explore critical topics including anger, self-esteem, guilt, shame and the impact of violence, all within a supportive, non-judgemental group environment.

Music Therapy Program

As an alternative to talk therapy, our Music Therapist offers a safe, non-threatening outlet for expression. Offering individual, family and group sessions to our residents, music therapy is a great way to aid in the trauma healing process.

Integrated Service with F&CS

In partnership with Family and Children’s Services (F&CS), our Clinical Support Workers provide assessment and short-term clinical intervention to F&CS clients. The goal of this program is to see a reduction in repeat domestic violence referrals and reduce the number of children placed in foster care as a result of domestic violence.

Nurse Practitioners

Offered at both Anselma and Haven House, our nurse practitioners are available for women to access when needed. These visits can range from quick check-ups to detailed physical exams for the women.

While staying in shelter is completely optional, below are some resources to help determine if this may be the right step for you. We also offer safe, confidential outreach services, which can be accessed by visiting our outreach services page. 

If you decide to leave

Call our 24-hour crisis support line or access the online chat to speak with a support worker. From there, we will explore safe options for you, including a safety exit plan, if applicable.

If coming to Women’s Crisis Services, you and your child(ren) may stay for up to eight weeks*. While in shelter, you will have many programs and services available to you, some of those services include:

  • 24/7 support
  • Counselling
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Food and Nutrition Support
  • Addictions Support
  • Music Therapy Support

To read more about the in-shelter and outreach services, please click here.

*Due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the difficulty some may face finding safe, affordable housing, these stays may be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

If you decide to stay

If you decide to stay, but are in need of crisis support or information, you can call our 24-hour crisis support line or chat online with one of our support workers.

Our Residential and Outreach team can assist you in finding counselling, support, resources and information.

COVID-19 Protocol in Shelter

For the safety and well-being of our clients and staff, any person entering the shelter is expected to follow COVID-19 protocols.

If you have pets

While pets are not allowed to stay in shelter with you, our team will work with you to ensure there are arrangements in place for your pet while you are staying in shelter.

Services dogs are allowed in shelter.

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