Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used by one person to gain power and control over another person with whom he/she has or has had an intimate relationship. This pattern of behavior may include physical violence, sexual, emotional, and psychological intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking, and using electronic devices to harass and control. Victims are abused in all social, religious, ethnic, cultural, income and educational groups regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or relationship status. [source of definition – Toronto Police Services]

Violence and Family Law

Custody and Access – Ontario courts are required to consider any violence against a spouse or parent of a child when making an order for custody of or access to a child.

Restraining Order – A person who has been abused by his or her spouse can ask the Court to make a restraining order. If your spouse disobeys the restraining order, you can call the police and if the police believe that your spouse has disobeyed the restraining order, he or she can be arrested and charged.

Advice for Victim/Survivor

If you or your children are experiencing domestic violence and you feel you are in danger, call 911 immediately. If you do not wish to contact the police, you should still call a lawyer in order to understand your legal rights and how to protect you and your children. You can also call the Victim Support Line toll-free at 1-888-579-2888. The staff at the Victim Support Line can tell you about services in your community such as sexual assault and counselling programs, shelters and legal aid clinics.