Signal for Help
Bernadette: Call it abuse

Bernadette has always been drawn to helping people. And now, that’s exactly what she does living and working in Halifax as a court advocate for women fleeing abusive relationships.  This work is personal for Bernadette. She grew up in a “dysfunctional” home where she suffered corporal punishment at the hands of her father. Then, in her early 20s, she met her now ex-husband, who abused her throughout their 29-year relationship. This included physical abuse during her pregnancy, as well as enduring emotional abuse such as control and belittlement.  She felt that friends and family minimized her experience, and she had to find her own way out of the marriage. Today, she often experiences minimizing language and rationale coming from those who are tasked with deciding the fate of her clients. To help, Bernadette emphasizes the importance of validating survivor voices and educating responders with the right language to go along with a deeper level of empathy. You can find more information about this podcast and full episode transcripts on the Canadian Women's Foundation website (  This podcast includes stories of gender-based violence. Please listen with care.    If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency services (police, fire, ambulance). For a list of shelters, other services, and information that may be helpful to you, go to and click on “Get Help”.    When you know how to respond to the signs of abuse, you can change the story. Take action at   This project has been funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.  

19 March 2023