Types of Abuse
What types of Abuse are Criminal?
While it is important to recognize that not all women suffering abuse want to involve law enforcement, some may feel it is necessary. Keep in mind that if you do report an incident to the police, if the police feel there are sufficient grounds they will lay a charge. This does two things; it diverts blame for the laying of charges away from the victim and places it on the police and it stops the offender from feeling that he can get away with the abuse even if the police are called.
The ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services defines domestic violence occurrences as any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship, including emotional/ psychological abuse or harassing behaviour.
To charge your partner with domestic abuse the abuse must contravene the criminal code. These contraventions would include homicide, assault, sexual assault, threatening death or bodily harm, forcible confinement, harassing/stalking, kidnapping, property-related including theft or mischief (vandalism) and includes breaches of court orders made under the criminal code or when there is a contravention of a valid order under sections 24 and 46 of the Family Law Act and section 35 of the Children's Law Reform Act.
*Note: Section 24 of the Family Law Act involves possession of the matrimonial home while section 46 involves the acts of molesting, annoying or harassing. Section 35 of the Children's Law Reform Act involves an order restraining harassment.
Harassment comes in many different forms:
The criminal definition includes one or more of the following;
- Repeated following of the victim or a person known to the victim
- Repeated communication (phone calls, letters, emails) directly or indirectly (through another person) with the victim
- Watching or besetting any place where the victim may be
- Threatening conduct towards the victim or any member of the victims family
If any of these behaviours cause the victim to have a reasonable concern for their safety then the criminal code definition has been met.
Harassment as laid out in the Family Law Act or the Children’s Law Reform Act would have a broader definition which would lower the threshold. This would include all of the behaviours listed in the criminal code definition but the behaviours would stand on their own whether or not the victim has a reasonable fear.
While not all domestic abuse will result in criminal charges it is necessary to recognize it for what it is and take the appropriate steps to end the abuse.
Many victims do not even recognize the abuse until it has escalated to the point where they are in serious danger.
Recognizing the signs early can greatly increase the safety of abuse victims by taking action before this escalation occurs.