What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence or abuse is not a newborn offence. It has been a socio-legal issue since time immemorial. However, it has become multi-faceted over time. Unfortunately, it is still profoundly misunderstood as a domestic affair involving a violent act, whether physical or mental, against a person at the hands of their partner. In reality, it is much more than a mere act of physical or psychological violence.
This blog will discuss a range of behaviours and acts that constitute the offence of Domestic Violence. It will also highlight who is at risk and how to approach for help if you or anyone you know is subject to domestic violence.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Many people do not realize they endure violence in spousal or intimate relationships. Domestic Violence does not only include the act of physical harm. It also includes emotional, psychological, and financial abuse. Moreover, it does not only occur amongst married couples. It can occur in other domestic relationships, for example, violence toward children or older adults. To better understand what constitutes Domestic Violence, the types of abuse are categorized as follows:
- Physical abuse includes causing bodily harm through aggressive physical behaviour such as pushing, hitting, kicking, striking, choking, or beating. It may or may not leave noticeable marks or cause physical injuries. Even threats of causing physical violence form part of Domestic Violence.
- Verbal abuse includes using offensive and foul language. In addition, it refers to using words or actions with the intent to intimidate or exercise control over an intimate partner or spouse. Such mental or psychological hampers the self-esteem of the victim.
- Sexual abuse includes forceful sexual activity without the victim’s consent.
- Financial abuse involves controlling finances and misusing an intimate partner’s property, money, or resources without their consent.
- Harassment can occur by stalking or monitoring a partner’s activities online, using electronic devices to watch or control them, and invading their privacy.
A surprising fact indicates that nearly 80% of victims confide in their family or friends about domestic abuse. However, the percentage of cases wherein the victim reports the abuse to the police is only 30%. If you’re unsure whether your situation constitutes Domestic Violence, book a free consultation with one of our criminal lawyers.
Who can be affected by Domestic Violence?
Predominantly women are the most common victims of this offence. Seven out of ten people who experience domestic abuse are women or girls. However, anyone can fall victim to Domestic Violence, irrespective of age, financial status, gender identity, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or education. Men can also be victims of domestic violence. In Canada, indigenous women are at higher risk of domestic violence than non-indigenous women.
Incidents of Domestic Abuse can impact the physical and mental health of the victim. They may face:
- physical pain or injuries
- post-traumatic stress disorders
- financial instability
- loss of sense of safety
- damage to their self-esteem and confidence
- damage to their personal growth and abilities to realize their full potential
Is Domestic Violence a Criminal Offence?
The simple answer to this question is a yes! Domestic Violence is a punishable offence in Canada and is covered under the Canadian Criminal Code. The accused can be held liable depending on the nature and extent of the violent act.
The Criminal Code contains several special provisions to protect domestic abuse victims. Canadian criminal courts have wide-ranging powers to release or detain an accused person in cases where the charge of domestic violence is made out. For example, under section 515 of the Criminal Code, they can provide for release conditions such as “no contact” until the trial. In addition, section 810 empowers the court to order peace bonds or recognizances, requiring the accused to agree to specific conditions to maintain peace.
If someone you know is a victim or survivor, encourage them to identify their support network. Then, help them build a safety plan and reach out to 911 or relevant crisis lines or authorities for help. In case of any legal assistance, contact us for free legal consultation. With over two decades of experience in the legal industry, we aim to offer the best criminal and other legal services. Learn more about Shory Law and our team of lawyers.
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