Domestic Abuse: There Is A Way Out
According to a report released in early 2017 from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS), Alberta ranks third highest out of all Canadian provinces when it comes to intimate partner violence. The report shows that 80% of police-reported incidents came from women, and also that one-third of Canadians over the age of 15 have experienced abuse as a child. Those are staggering numbers. In many situations, the victim often feels helpless and that there is no end in sight.
What Is Considered Domestic Abuse?
- Physical Abuse - This pertains to any punching, slapping, kicking, choking, or injuries from a weapon or object.
- Psychological Abuse - Living in constant fear of threats of violence either for yourself or your children. This includes harassing phone calls at work.
- Emotional Abuse- Put-downs, name calling, and never-ending criticism alone or in front of loved ones. Often individuals who are emotionally abused find it hard to keep friends outside the home.
- Sexual Abuse or Marital Rape - Being forced against your will to perform sexual acts or have pain or injury inflicted during intercourse.
- Financial Abuse- Having no access to the family’s money, or how it is spent or saved. The divorce law states that in cases of divorce, women have a right to 50% of the family’s assets.
What Can I Do?
- Don’t alert the abuser that you’re leaving. This can make matters worse.
- Create a safety plan. If you can, stash some money, clothing, documents, and other essentials in case you need to leave. Find a place to stay in case of an emergency and alert a few trusted friends and family members. It’s important to be prepared for your safety in case a situation might escalate.
- Even if you’re not ready to leave the relationship, try joining a support group so you can discuss your situation with others and receive counseling from trained professionals.
- Many domestic violence centers offer one-on-one counseling that provides therapy and connects you to resources in the area.
- If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
How Do I Help Somebody Suffering From Domestic Abuse?
At Verhaeghe Law Office, we understand the stress that comes from any lawsuit, and how it multiplies when a family is involved. Filing a police report and requesting a restraining order all seem like easy things to do from the outside, but when you’re the victim, it’s much more challenging. Many times, victims of domestic violence have attempted to leave multiple times, but find the comfort of the abuser more manageable. It’s best not to blame or judge. Instead, demonstrate that you care, and the best way to accomplish this is through listening. Suggesting domestic violence support groups, hotline numbers, and other resources can help take the strain off them. At the end of the day, the victim has to decide on their own.
How Does The Law Protect Victims of Domestic Abuse?
In most cases, courts don’t allow family members to sue each other for torts. However, when the family unit is already broken down, (e.g., when domestic abuse takes place), the injured party is allowed their day in court. When working with domestic abuse victims, a common occurrence is finding they have been robbed of their sense of control and their emotional outlet. Finding the strength to come forward, should not only be commended but it also restores a sense of control and provides emotional relief on some level for the victim.
The types of damages that can be sought are:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Punitive Damages
Remember, a civil lawsuit isn’t for protection. Instead, it’s designed to help recover monetary compensation for a domestic violence injury. There are other ways to obtain immediate protection — restraining orders, arrests, and criminal prosecution. A civil suit should wait until the victim, and other family members are safe.
What Happens After?
Usually, a divorce or divorce proceedings are necessary. A final divorce is not necessary before a personal injury lawsuit. If the victim is awarded the damages for their injuries while the divorce proceedings are underway, the damages owed will be applied to the divorce settlement.
It’s important to understand that the victim is undergoing stress that those from the outside can’t possibly understand. While we think we might be helping, it might also put the victim in even more danger. If shown a way the victim will find a way out of the abusive cycle and get the help they need. At Verhaeghe Law, we will be ready to help you get the justice you and your family deserve.