MONTREAL -- A day after a 42-year-old woman and her two young sons were found dead in their home in Pointe-aux-Trembles, those who work with victims of domestic abuse are asking questions.

Dahia Khellaf's husband had a history of domestic abuse: Nabil Yssaad was charged with two counts of assault against his wife in August 2018.

Last week, he agreed to sign a section 810 peace bond, which is essentially a plea bargain where charges are dropped in exchange for the accused agreeing to conditions, including keeping away from his accuser.

Agreements like that rarely solve the problem, said Manon Monastesse of the Federation of Women's Shelters. 

"They break their conditions very often," said Monastesse, who works with victims of domestic violence.

Crown prosecutor Christopher Hadjis-Chartrand says he urges domestic assault complainants to call 911, no matter how minor an issue seems.

'We try to emphasize the importance of calling 911, even when perhaps the threat level is only mild," he said. "I think this is something that people need to know: that it's better to call the police and then the situation is not so serious after all than to wait for a situation to escalate."

Hadjis-Chartrand said he and police officers often give out their personal information and urge victims to call, "to make them know that there will always be someone that will listen."

"I often tell personally my complainants that as soon as you receive a text message and you're not supposed to, as soon as you have the impression that someone drove in front of your door and it might be a person that's not supposed to be there, call 911. I've never had negative feedback from the SPVM when a complainant reacted this way," he said.

"I'd rather you call the police 10 times, and out of those 10 times there's only one incident that led to an arrest. It doesn't matter, because the risk is so important if we don't operate this way."

Monastesse said she wonders if anyone in the courts tried to get Yssaad help for his violent behaviour – and if police or anyone else tried to get Khellaf to seek help at a shelter.

"They went to the house many times. There were calls for domestic violence. What did they do?" she pondered.

Quebec shelters say they are underfunded, understaffed and sometimes cases deemed to be not urgent are often sidelined.

"Unfortunately right now we do have a quite a long wait list of about nine months," she said.

Every year in Quebec, about a dozen women die as a result of domestic violence, and there are 30 more attempted murders.

- With files from CTV News Montreal's Rob Lurie


If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, here are some available resources:

SOS violence conjugale (1-800-363-9010)

Your local CLSC (Info-santé: 811)

Crime Victim Assistance Centre (1-866-532-2822)

Assistance aux femmes (514-270-8291)

Find the nearest shelter at Women's Shelters Canada

If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.