Domestic Violence

We can assist with a number of issues, from helping you navigate the legal process in an abusive situation while staying sage, especially with partner abuse and children, to dealing with the police and criminal charges. Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you.

Supreme Court

What is abuse?

Partner abuse happens when your partner tries to control you, or make you afraid of them. Abuse can happen in any relationship, and is also called "domestic violence" or "family violence".

Abuse can take different forms, and can be physical, sexual, emotional, or financial. Neglect is also a form of abuse. Your partner neglects you if they do not provide what you need to survive, such as food, clothing, medical care, or shelter.

Partner abuse usually happens in a pattern, which is sometimes called a “cycle of violence“. There might be times where there is no abuse and you feel happy with your partner while at other times, you might feel tense and nervous around your partner. However, eventually there is another abusive event, for example, your partner hitting you or yelling at you. After this happens, things might settle down or your partner might promise never to be abusive again. They might try to make you forget what happened by being nice to you or buying you a gift. Even if things get better for awhile, the abuse will usually start again. Even if you do not want to end the relationship, it is important to take steps to help keep you and your children safe.

Our work focuses on legal assistance for victims of domestic violence and abuse, and we collaborate with a number of women's shelters to assist clients with legal representation in a way that is safe and responsive in order to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Contact us today to find out how we can assist you.

Abusive relationships and the court process

Partner abuse can affect your family law issues in many important ways:

  • It can make it difficult to talk with your partner safely and fairly when trying to resolve family law issues.

  • It can affect the process you choose to use to resolve your issues, for example, whether you choose to try an out of court option with a family law professional, or to go to court.

  • It can affect how your issues are resolved. For instance, you and your partner can agree on what happens, or a family court judge or family arbitrator can decide what happens. A history of financial abuse may affect how the children's expenses are paid.

  • It can affect the type of evidence you have to give to explain your safety concerns.

 

Further, if you or your partner are not Canadian citizens, it may complicate your situation. We can help connect you with an immigration lawyer who can advise you regarding how your legal status in Canada may be affected by leaving an abusive relationship.

Partner abuse cases can also be complicated if your partner is charged with a crime related to their abuse. Contact us today to find out more about how we can assist you.

What happens if your abusive partner is charged with a crime 

If you or someone else calls the police about your partner's abuse, the police decide what happens. You do not decide.

If the police think that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that someone committed a crime, they must charge that person with a crime.

If your partner is charged, the police should help you find services for victims of crime so you can get some support after the police leave. The police will probably take your partner to the police station.

Your partner might be released by the police or the court. They will usually have to follow certain conditions. These conditions are the rules your partner must follow after being released by the police or the court.

It might take a long time before the criminal court process is completed. Someone from the Victim/Witness Assistance Program at the criminal court should stay in touch with you to keep you updated.

If you are afraid of your partner, you should think about making a safety plan to keep you and your children safe. You can download an example of a safety plan here.

Staying safe after an abusive relationship and during court proceedings

It is important to take the right steps to ensure you stay safe after leaving an abusive relationship and during the course of legal proceedings. You might be able to talk to your partner to make an agreement about when, where, and how they may contact you or your children. However, if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, you do not have to talk to your partner directly. You can have a lawyer or someone else talk to your partner for you. This could be a friend, family member, or religious advisor. You might need to make changes to your life to limit your partner's contact with you. For example, you can:

  • change your telephone number and email address

  • change your routines, like the time you leave for work or when you usually get groceries

 

You can also make a safety plan to help keep you and your children safe. See an example of a safety plan here.

If these changes do not keep your partner away from you, you might be able to:

  • talk to the police about bringing criminal charges against your partner

  • get a restraining order from the family court

  • get a peace bond from the criminal court

 

Each of these options protects you in different ways. The one that is best for you depends on your situation. 

We work with victims of abuse and are trained to recognize risks faced by victims of abuse especially during court proceedings. We have policies in place to safeguard the wellbeing of out clients, especially those who have been the victims of abuse. Some examples of our policies include contact through a safe medium such as a telephone number or email the abuser does not have access to, availability after hours for emergencies, corresponding with women's shelters for ease of communication and filling out court paperwork, working with family service workers and interpreters, and making motions on an urgent basis when needed. Contact us to find out more about how we can assist you.