Domestic Violence and Abuse

1. What is domestic violence and abuse?
Domestic violence in Canada is not uncommon. According to statistics, domestic violence is experienced by one out of ten women. There are different types of abuse: physical violence, neglect, emotional and sexual abuse and others. According to Canadian law domestic violence is a crime.

2. Who can help me against domestic violence?
In case of domestic violence, there are many opportunities to consult with a family doctor, social worker or the head of a religious community, to call a domestic violence hotline, etc. In severe cases, it is necessary to call the police. A person suspected of breaking the law can be arrested. Perhaps he or she would have to spend time in custody before the hearing or a longer period depending on the judge's decision. If the person who has mistreated you is found guilty, the judge will decide the sentence: a fine, probation or imprisonment.

3. What can a woman do if she is subjected to domestic violence?
A woman who believes that she was subjected to domestic violence can call 911 and ask the police to take her and her children to a shelter or another safe place. The staff at shelters are trained to assist victims of domestic violence, and can advise you on what to do next and how to ensure the safety of you and your children. The police may also put your abuser in jail. If you are not sure whether you want to put your abuser in jail, you can first call the domestic violence hotline. You can tell them about your problem and get appropriate advice.

4. What is the domestic violence hotline?
Women who are subjected to domestic violence can call the Assaulted Women's Helpline 1-866-863-0511 for advice and counselling. This phone works round the clock, seven days a week and you can talk to them in any of 154 languages. They help about 50,000 women per year in Ontario. Your call will be completely anonymous and confidential; you will not be asked your name, or even your phone number. The Assaulted Women's Helpline will offer you:
•Crisis counselling
•Emotional support
•Safety planning
•Information and referrals for local shelters and legal/health related resources
Source: Assaulted Women's Helpline

5. What is a shelter?
Shelters are safe places where the person subjected to violence can stay temporarily from one week to several months. They operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The shelter staff can refer you to organizations providing legal, medical and other services. Newcomers with limited English skills will receive the assistance of an interpreter. To find the nearest shelter call the Assaulted Women's Helpline. Accommodation in shelters in most cases is free of charge. Before going to a shelter call them and find out if there is a space and if your case is suited to the program they are operating.

6. Who can help if a child suffers from domestic violence?
There are such forms of domestic violence related to children, such as physical abuse, neglect, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. The law requires you to report child abuse whether witnessed or suspected. You do not have to give your name when you report it. If a child is exposed to domestic violence, you can also seek advice from school counsellors, teachers, or the children’s aid society. Generally, a child protection worker meets with the family and the children to investigate. If the worker believes that the children were abused, the worker will determine what happens next. It depends on the individual situation. The worker may order the family to get counselling, remove the child temporarily from the home, or even involve the police.
Source: I think a child is being abused. What do I do?

7. How to determine signs of child abuse?
The following are signs of child abuse:
•Physical abuse occurs from physical force, which could result in injury to the child. Injuries may include: bruises, welts, cuts, fractures, burns, internal injuries.
•Neglect exists when a parent or caregiver is unable to meet a child’s basic needs. It leads to poor hygiene, unattended medical needs, such as dental work and glasses, frequent absence from school, frequently forgetting to bring a lunch, etc.
•Emotional abuse exists when a child is subjected to behavior such as verbal aggression or constant criticism that may result in psychological trauma. It leads to severe depression, extreme withdrawal or aggressiveness.
•Sexual abuse occurs when a child is sexually exploited by an older person. It leads to atypical sexual knowledge, pregnancy, prostitution, seductive behaviour.
Source: Learn the signs of abuse & neglect

8. Who can help if an elderly person suffers from abuse?
According to statistics, one out of ten elderly people in Canada are abused at home or in nursing homes. The following are types of elder abuse:
•Physical abuse is violence or rough treatment causing injury or physical discomfort. For example, pushing, hitting, rough handling and scalding.
•Psychological abuse includes treatment that may reduce the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth of the older adult. Elderly people are also vulnerable to manipulation through medication and spiritual abuse.
•Sexual abuse is any sexual behaviour directed toward an older adult without that person’s full knowledge and consent.
•Financial abuse is the use of an older adult’s funds and assets without that person’s knowledge. For example, use of an older adult’s money, cashing pension or other cheques without authorization.
•Neglect means insufficient provision of basic necessities or care. For example, denying the older person food/water, denying visits from family or friends, etc.
To report elderly person abuse in Ontario call the Seniors Safety Line Toll-free: 1-866-299-1011. This telephone line provides information, referrals and support for seniors 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in over 150 languages.

9. What do immigrants and refugees need to know about domestic violence?
Newcomers and refugees who face domestic violence in the family are often afraid to seek protection in Canada, because they do not know how this will change their residence status. Under Canadian law, if a newcomer already has permanent resident status, in case of reporting about abuse, his or her status will not be lost. If you don't have permanent resident status, for example you are working on a temporary visa or have applied for refugee status, in the case of domestic violence you urgently need to consult with a social worker or a lawyer.

10. Where can I find sources of additional information about family abuse in Canada?
Where can I get help for domestic abuse?
Elder abuse is wrong

11. Are there any Canadian sources in other languages?
Abuse is wrong in any Language (in 10 languages)