Domestic violence is a serious issue and a serious crime. Each year, over 40,000 arrests result in Canada from domestic violence. Violence can be an ongoing threat, wherever you are. Therefore, if your spouse is violent, you must take all steps necessary to protect your safety and the safety of your children. Focus on your legal issues only after you are safe. Once circumstances allow, victims of domestic violence should seek the advice of a family law lawyer to ensure their rights are protected with respect to issues such as exclusive possession of the family home, child custody and access, property division and child support.
When people think of domestic abuse, they often focus on domestic violence. But domestic abuse includes any attempt by one person in an intimate relationship or marriage to dominate and control the other. Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” An abuser uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb.
Domestic violence is not physical violence alone. Domestic violence is any behavior the purpose of which is to gain power and control over a spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend or intimate family member. Abuse is a learned behavior; it is not caused by anger, mental problems, drugs or alcohol, or other common excuses.
Physical abuse can include hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, pulling hair, burning, cutting, pinching, etc. (any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim). Physical abuse also includes denying someone medical treatment and forcing drug/alcohol use on someone. Withholding of physical needs including interruption of sleep or meals, denying money, food, transportation, or help if sick or injured, locking victim into or out of the house, refusing to give or rationing necessities. Abusing, injuring, or threatening to injure others like children, pets, or special property.
Sexual abuse is sexual behavior or a sexual act forced upon a woman, man or child without their consent. Sexual abuse includes abuse of a woman, man or child by a man, woman or child. Sexual abuse is an act of violence which the attacker uses against someone they perceive as weaker than them. It does not come from an uncontrollable sex drive, but is a crime committed deliberately with the goal of controlling and humiliating the victim.
Some examples of sexual assault and abuse are:
• Unwanted kissing or touching.
• Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
• Rape or attempted rape.
• Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
• Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
• Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
• Threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity
Emotional abuse is a way to control another person by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise manipulate another person. In general, a relationship is emotionally abusive when there is a consistent pattern of abusive words and bullying behaviors that wear down a person’s self-esteem and undermine their mental health. An emotional abuser’s goal is to undermine another person’s feelings of self-worth and independence. In an emotionally abusive relationship, you may feel that there is no way out or that without your partner you’ll have nothing. Emotional abuse is a form of domestic and family violence.
Economic abuse is wider in its definition than ‘financial abuse’, as it can also include restricting access to essential resources such as food, clothing or transport, and denying the means to improve a person’s economic status (for example, through employment, education or training).Domestic abuse takes many forms. Some abusers repeatedly dictate their partner’s choices and control their everyday actions, becoming violent or threatening to become violent if their demands are refused. An abuser may restrict how their partner acquires, uses and maintains money and economic resources, such as accommodation, food, clothing and transportation. This behaviour is known as economic abuse.
Psychological abuse involves the regular and deliberate use of a range of words and non-physical actions used with the purpose to manipulate, hurt, weaken or frighten a person mentally and emotionally; and/or distort, confuse or influence a person’s thoughts and actions within their everyday lives, changing their sense of self and harming their wellbeing.
In simplest terms, stalking is the unwanted pursuit of another person. By its nature, stalking is not a one-time event. The more of a relationship that existed prior to the identified stalking, including spouses or intimate partners, the more likely the stalkers are choosing to use their behaviors in order to gain (or regain) power and control over their victims.
Canada has multiple types of domestic violence offenses that can range from stalking to a battery. However, domestic violence crimes are quite common. Disputes can often occur within a household, and they could potentially lead harsh punishments under the law. Have you, or someone you may know, been pressed with a domestic violence charge, or any other type of, we can help.
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