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Getting help for child and spousal abuse

A woman helding her head in her hands.
Photo: iStock

If you are experiencing abuse at home, whether recent or it has been going on for a while, and you want to get out, you will need help.

If you are a child or a woman experiencing abuse at home, whether verbal, physical or sexual, the first thing to do is tell a trusted authority figure. Usually the first person to tell is a teacher or nurse if you are a child. If not, you can go to any hospital or health clinic and let them know you are being abused and don’t feel safe at home.

Just know that any kind of abuse at home is not acceptable and is punishable by law. Physical abuse is categorized as assault. As is verbal, emotional or sexual assault.

What can you do if you are experiencing abuse?

If a person close to you is abusing you and you want to use the law to help you stop them, here is what you can do:

Call the police

 If you are being abused and you are afraid for your life, please call the police. If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 to get immediate assistance. If you need urgent medical help, please also call 9-1-1

  Go to a shelter

 A shelter is a temporary refuge for women and children who are escaping abusive and violent situations.

  Get a peace bond

  • A peace bond, also known as an “810 recognizance”, is a court order that forces a person to stay away from you, because that person has to “to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.”
  • Peace bonds are under the federal Criminal Code of Canada and therefore enforceable by police.
  • A peace bond can force the person whom you want to stay away from you to:
    • Not call you or text you;
    • Not go to your home or the place at which you are staying;
    • Not contact children, or other family members;
    • Not walk or drive by your residence;
    • Be forbidden from having a firearm or ammunition.

Get a restraining order

  • A restraining order is a civil law order not only to get a person to stay away from you, but also to stop bothering you. For example, if the person constantly calls you at work or waits for you after work.
  • You don’t have to have fear of a person to get a restraining order.
  • The difference between peace bonds and restraining orders is that peace bonds are orders under the Criminal Code of Canada and are enforceable by police, whereas restraining orders are provincial and are not enforceable by police.
  • If the person who is subject to the restraining order fails to abide by its terms, you can ask the court to hold the person in contempt. That may mean a fine and in some cases, jail.

Here is where to find organizations that can help

9-1-1 is the number to call when you’re in immediate danger.

If you are a child and you need help because you are being abused, you can reach out to the Kids Help Phone. They are available every day and you can call them at any time. Their number is 1-800-668-6868.

There are also resources on the web to help you find a woman’s shelter near you.

If you’re an abused child, youth or family here is a resource for organizations that serve and help children, youth, and families.

If you are experiencing family violence, here is a list of where to get help.

If you have shelter or housing needs, you can contact your local YMCA. They have support programs and services for girls or women needing help getting out of abusive situations, and their children.

For new immigrants recently arrived in Canada who are experiencing abuse and needing help, you can consult this resource for a list of organizations.

Every province has legal aid societies. If you need legal help but you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you can try to qualify for legal aid.

If, for whatever reason, you are not able to consult the above resources, please visit:

  • A hospital;
  • A police station;
  • Your family doctor;
  • A walk-in clinic;
  • A public health nurse;


Read More:

Abuse is Wrong – Department of Justice

Violence, Bullying and Abuse Prevention – Red Cross

Women’s Shelter Locator Canada