Victims Of Domestic Abuse: Legal Options To Consider

Although over the years the rates for domestic violence have decreased, according to a report compiled by CBC, over 362,000 victims experience or witness family abuse every year in Canada. And, over 83% victims of spousal abuse are women. Hence, it’s crucial for women to be aware of their rights and the legislations regarding domestic violence to put an immediate stop to this abuse.

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviour demonstrated by one partner to establish control or dominance over the other, where both of these partners are involved in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence doesn’t necessarily need to be physical. A spouse that faces abuse of physical, mental or emotional nature is considered a victim of this violence.

Here’s a closer look at the legal options for domestic violence victims to consider:

Criminal Charges

Although there is no specific federal legislation regarding domestic violence, it is classified as a criminal offence under the Family Violence Laws. The province of Alberta also provides special provisions to the victims of family abuse under its domestic violence guidelines. The abusers can be prosecuted under the following offences of the Canadian criminal code:

  • Assault
  • Sexual Assault
  • Criminal Harassment
  • Uttering threats
  • Forcible confinement

If you are aware of or are yourself a victim of any of the above infractions at the hand of a spouse or a partner, immediately consult a family lawyer. A skilled family lawyer can help you file the correct legal action against the abuser and make the process of prosecution easier.

Peace Bonds

Peace bond are orders issued by the court that compel the person they are filed against to keep peace or stay out of any criminal charges and follow all the other restrictions mentioned in the order. Violation of peace bonds is a criminal offence if reported timely and can lead to the prosecution of the offender. These bonds can be obtained at the provincial court and be extended to a period of 12 months.

Restraining Order

A restraining order is similar to a peace bond in most respects with a few key exceptions. A restraining order is a civil order and can be obtained sooner than a peace bond. These orders are usually issued for a period of 1-6 months and can be extended for any amount of time. Violation of restraining orders may lead to civil penalties or criminal charges, depending on the severity of the offence.

It is crucial to consult a lawyer while applying for a restraining order as these remits need to be worded very carefully. The prospect of arrest over violation of the order, the places restricted for visitation and the times of visitation need to be articulated explicitly in the order.

Emergency Protection Order

An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is similar to a restraining order but provides more effective protection as compared to the former. These orders can be obtained instantly, even without the consent of the victim. Violation of an EPO leads to immediate indictment of the offender.

These are the most common legal options for the domestic violence victims to consider. Based on the severity and type of domestic violence, an experienced lawyer can help you file for an exclusive possession order and make the process of separation easier for you and your family.