2A man who beats a woman, whether it is his wife, his girlfriend, his common-law partner, or family member has committed a criminal offence. A woman who is subjected to assaults by her husband or boyfriend has the right to be protected from such violence. However, this right to be protected can only be enforced if the woman is prepared to seek help. There are many courses of action available to a woman who has been beaten and only she can decide which option is best for her.
Where Can a Battered Woman Get Help?
If you are in immediate danger, call the police by using the emergency number (911) in order to preserve your safety and that of your children. Make it clear to the police that you are in danger of immediate physical violence. This will speed up their response to your call. You should be aware that the police may charge your husband with assault (a criminal offence) and could arrest him and take him to jail right away.
In the past, in cases of domestic violence, the choice of whether criminal charges should be laid was once to be the responsibility of the individual woman. This is no longer the case. Today the police lay charges if they believe an assault has occurred or is likely to occur. If the police lay the charge, the charge can only be dropped at the discretion of the Crown Prosecutor. Some police departments, including the City of Calgary, have crisis units consisting of counsellors who will attend after the police have made a preliminary investigation. It is up to the police to call in a crisis unit worker, but you may request that one be called to assist you. The crisis unit worker can provide referrals to appropriate agencies and follow-up counselling./p>
If you choose not to call the police and do not want to stay in the house, get in touch with one of the women’s emergency shelters. They will provide you and your children with emergency accommodation (usually for up to twenty-one days). They also offer counselling, clothing, day care, and will assist you in getting legal help and Social Assistance if necessary. If there is no shelter in your area, you can also get emergency assistance from the Department of Social Services to pay for temporary accommodation (see Legal and Community Resources section).When you leave, take enough clothing for a few days, your house keys, medication, and identification. If you are unable to take anything, the police can go back to the house with you a day or two later while you collect the basic necessities that belong to you and your children.
What Can I Do If the Police Refuse to Charge My Husband?
If the police do not charge your husband, you may lay the charge yourself. This involves laying a private information before a Justice of the Peace. An information is a sworn statement which states that you have reasonable and probable grounds to believe an offence has been committed. You will be required to provide proof of the attack if the case goes to trial; therefore, you should request that the police make a written report and you should take photographs of any damage to yourself or your property, seek medical attention for any cuts etc., and have the doctor record any evidence of the attack. Before you start with criminal charges, you should be sure that you are prepared to follow through with them. Even if convicted, the man may only receive a fine, probation, or a discharge, unless he has a previous record of violence or you were seriously injured.
How Do I Protect Myself from My Partner’s Physical Abuse?
If you are concerned that your husband, partner, or boyfriend will subject you to further violence or if he is harassing you, you may apply for an Emergency Protection Order (EPO). The police or RCMP take applications for an EPO twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You may also make application for this order at Provincial Court, Family Division.
You would be given advice and assistance to help you complete the forms. Once you obtain the Order, your partner will be advised to stay away from you. The Order must be reviewed at a hearing at Court of Queen’s Bench within nine working days from the day the order was first granted. The documents are filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench, which automatically forwards the documents and a transcript of the hearing to the Family Law Office. A lawyer will contact you by letter, as soon as possible, to advise you that she is available to assist you at the EPO hearing at Court of Queen’s Bench, free of charge and to seek your instructions.
Alternatively, you may contact the Family Law Office to discuss your EPO. The lawyer also provides information about community services available, discusses safety issues, and ensures your Order has been served. If the EPO is confirmed by the Court of Queen’s Bench, the EPO will remain in place for up to one year. If there is a breach of the Order by your partner, the lawyer will attend court even months after the “review,” if you do not have a lawyer and sometimes even if you do. A second remedy for your safety would be a Restraining Order. This procedure is best used if you have already retained your own lawyer. A Restraining Order is different from an EPO because it must be obtained in combination with another legal action such as a matrimonial property action, a divorce action, or a civil action. It is possible to obtain other relief at the same time you apply for a Restraining Order such as custody of your children or possession of your home. When you get either Order, you or your lawyer must file it with the police. A copy must be served on the accused with an Affidavit of Service. In case of breach of the Order, the police will arrest your partner and keep him in police cells until he can be brought in front of a judge, which may take a night or a weekend. The judge may impose a fine, or a jail term, or may simply give him a reprimand.
If you do obtain a court Order that requires your partner to stay away from you, make sure that you also comply with the terms of the Order. Once the Order has been made, you should not ignore its terms by allowing your partner to have contact with you. If you do, you are encouraging your partner to break the law but, more importantly, you are ignoring the help which the court has given you. Should you reconcile with your partner or decide that you do not need the Order any longer, ask your lawyer to apply to the court to remove it. That way, if you need another Order in the future, the court may be more sympathetic to your situation. Generally, such Orders are good for a limited period of time, for example, ninety days, and you must apply to the court if you need to extend that period of time.
A third remedy available to you is a peace bond. To get a peace bond you must report the incident to the police and explain why you are afraid. You must then get the number from the police to make an appointment with a judge, Justice of the Peace, or magistrate at the Provincial Court House. If the judge decides to proceed then you will have to swear an “Information” and eventually appear in court to explain why you think a peace bond is necessary. It can take up to six weeks to obtain a peace bond and the police are more reluctant to enforce them than an EPO or Restraining Order.
A further remedy, available to legally married persons only, is an order under the Matrimonial Property Act for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. This could include an order forbidding your husband from coming to or entering the home. Such an Order can apply to both owned and rented property. When making a decision to award one spouse exclusive possession, a judge will consider the availability of other accommodation within your means and your husband’s means, the needs of your children, and both of your financial positions.
Also a “no contact” Order can be imposed by the police after an assault charge has been laid. A “no contact” Order is usually a condition of the accused’s release: in other words, he will be charged and released but only on the condition that he has no contact with the person he abused. If the “no contact” Order is breached, the accused may be remanded to sit in jail until his next court appearance. None of these remedies are absolute guarantees of your safety.
How Can I Support Myself If I Leave My Husband?
If you have decided to leave your husband but are unable to support yourself and your children after you leave, you can apply for social assistance (welfare). Funds will be provided for food, clothing, and shelter, as well as training if you have insufficient job skills. You should also apply immediately for interim custody of your children. If you are married, and if you do not have a court order or agreement for custody of the children, your husband could simply grab the children from you, or could even lay kidnapping charges against you for taking them from him (the consent of the Attorney General would be needed before the charge could be laid). The only defence to these charges is that the children were removed from a dangerous situation. Do not delay seeking interim custody of your children. This can be done through Family Court by yourself or through the Court of Queen’s Bench by your lawyer.
Elder abuse can take on many forms, including physical, financial, verbal, and psychological abuse and protection orders are also available for this kind of abuse. The Kerby Rotary House in Calgary, located at 1133, 7 Avenue SW, offers a supportive shelter for abused seniors. Call 403-705-3250. See the Legal and Community Resources for more contact information in your area.