Unfortunately, something that is very common in our courts is the growing amount of cases involving Domestic Violence. What is even more troubling is that victims of Domestic Violence, either a) do not use the resources available to them, or b) simply do not know what those resources are and how to access them.
Domestic Violence is not just physical violence or a threat to cause harm, it is also verbal, psychological and emotional as well.
Domestic Violence does not have a gender, cultural, race, socio-economical or age bias. It does not just happen to those who are low income or not as educated.
Many victims of Domestic Violence, whether for cultural reasons, finances or just shame, do not come forward. The ramifications are many. The victims become isolated and develop health issues. Children are not immune from living in a home where there is Domestic Violence as our courts have stated that the literature is very clear that a child’s mental well-being and development is inhibited if they reside in a home were there is Domestic Violence. Moreover, protecting a child from a home where there is Domestic Violence is a ground for Child and Family Services (Child Welfare) intervention and apprehension.
The following are tips and resources available if you or someone you know is a Victim of Domestic Violence:
1.Tell Someone – whether it a friend, family member, peer, physician, or someone else you trust. It is not normal to be the victim of Domestic Violence. Nor, should someone feel ashamed to speak out about it.
2.Leave the Situation – depending on the facts, time a part from the other person can be beneficial. If the situation is more serious and there is physical harm or threats of harm being made, then you should leave the home/situation immediately.
3.Tell the Police – If there is physical violence or threats of harm, as is common with these cases, you can phone the police. The police will investigate the matter and potentially lay charges and direct no contact with you. As a victim you have the right to protect yourself and others. The police can direct you to resources that are available to you, including shelters, counselling, etc. Failure to contact the police, if there are children in your home, can lead to Child Welfare’s involvement – if you are a victim of a criminal act against you; and/or if your children are the victims of Domestic Violence or a criminal act against them and you do not report it, this can also lead to criminal charges being laid against you.
4.Leave the home and go to a shelter – There are many shelters available for victims of Domestic Violence, including specifically Women’s Shelters. Your children are also welcome in these shelters and the Shelter will link you to a worker who will assist you.
5.Go for Counselling – you can attend counselling with the other individual. If there is physical violence you should still contact the police first; however, sometimes counselling, including Domestic Violence counselling is very beneficial. It is very common on Child Welfare files, where there is a history of domestic violence, for the parents to be referred to Domestic Violence Counselling.
6.Protection Orders – you can go to the courthouse and apply for an Emergency Protection Order. There needs to be some imminent harm to you. If the court is satisfied, then it will grant an Emergency Protection Order. This Emergency Protection Order is for a short duration and then it is reviewable in the Court of Queen’s Bench, at which time it can be extended – Legal Aid will likely appoint you a lawyer to represent you as duty counsel for your Court of Queen’s Bench court appearance. If there is no imminent harm you may apply for a Queen’s Bench Protection Order. With both of these protection orders you can include your children, other family members, place of work, children’s school, and your matrimonial home, so that the other party cannot be near them.
7.Contact Domestic Violence organizations – Organizations like Home Front, and Hull Services are knowledgeable and work in close contact with the police and other organizations.
8.Other Community Organizations
It is important to remember that you have rights. You do not need to accept Domestic Violence. You can speak out. Moreover, there is funding that the government, Alberta Works, etc., will provide victims, who leave Domestic Violence relationships, so that they can have housing, employment and become self-sufficient. If there is a court application, Legal Aid routinely appoints counsel to victims, for Emergency Protection Orders, as well as for any parenting, spousal support, child support, matrimonial property, and divorce applications.
*** The following is only for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. Each matter and client are different and it is always wise to consult a lawyer to discuss your specific case***
Sanjiv Parmar - Parmar Law- www.parmarlaw.ca