A few basic points about domestic violence:

1. Don’t become a deadly statistic
All too often people stay too long in a violent home. The idea of going to court, they believe, is just too much. In reality, court is better than an emergency room or worse. Each year, over 40,000 arrests result from domestic violence. This represents about 12% of violent crimes reported to police in Canada. Spousal homicides account for approximately 16% of all solved homicides.

2. If your spouse is violent, take immediate action.
Call the police if necessary. When you are safe, contact a domestic violence relief agency, such as the Victim Support Line at 1-888-579-2888, or 416-314-2447 in the Greater Toronto Area. The Victim Support Line can help you by giving you personal information and connecting you with appropriate services. They can also direct you to a safe shelter. If it is an emergency, call 911.

3. If you fear for your safety, leave the house; otherwise, talk to a lawyer first.
Violence can be an ongoing threat, wherever you are. Therefore, if your spouse is violent, you must take all steps necessary to protect your safety and the safety of your children. Focus on your legal issues only after you are safe.

In general, you can leave the house and not come back, and you may take the children with you, unless a court order directs you otherwise. However, if circumstances allow, speak to a lawyer who can look at your individual circumstances to assist you in making the best decision in your particular circumstances.

4. If warranted, file criminal charges.
If you are physically abused, there are several crimes your abuser can be charged with under the Criminal Code: abuse, sexual abuse, forcible confinement, making threats, or criminal harassment. Contact the police as soon as possible.

Your first priority must always be your personal safety and the safety of your children.

If you require any assistance with legal issues involving domestic abuse, do not hesitate to contact your Toronto divorce lawyer.