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Thousands of people are victims of family violence each year in Canada. The highest-risk group comprises people aged 25 to 34. Spousal violence is more likely to occur between ex-spouses and partners than it is with current partners; in fact, nearly one in five Canadians is the victim of abuse at the hands of an ex during a divorce or after the relationship ends.

Are you at risk for spousal violence? If you are, how can you prevent it?

Who is Affected by Spousal Abuse in Canada?

Your Mississauga divorce lawyer has probably worked with several people whose lives have been affected by spousal and ex-spousal abuse. In Ontario in 2009, more than six percent of women and six percent of men reported themselves as victims of spousal violence. Additionally, 17 percent of Canadians say they have experienced emotional or financial abuse.

Kids are at risk too. Statistics Canada reports that 55,000 children were victims of abuse in 2009, and that sixty percent of those were assaulted by a parent.

Spousal Violence: Who’s at Fault?

Without exception, spousal violence is the perpetrator’s fault. It is never the victim’s fault, regardless of what the abuser may suggest. A sense of loss of control, which is exacerbated during divorce, often leads to the abuser trying to regain control through violence or a “show of force.”

Other factors, like insecurity, low self-esteem and mental illness also contribute to family violence. Women are slightly more likely to experience assault at the hands of a partner or an ex-partner, but men are also victimized. Additionally, men are less likely to report spousal violence because of cultural pressures and societal perceptions.

Avoiding Risks and Keeping Your Family Safe

If your ex has been violent in the past, tell your Mississauga divorce lawyer immediately. He or she may be able to petition the court and obtain an order that protects you and your children. Even if your ex has not been physically violent, let your lawyer know. Your lawyer will use his or her extensive experience to evaluate the situation and help you determine whether you need a protective order.

In most cases, it’s a good idea to steer clear of your ex if you’re concerned for your safety. It’s important that you discuss your concerns with your Mississauga divorce lawyer if you may have to come into contact with him or her, or if your children might.

Depending on the specifics of your case (only your Mississauga divorce lawyer can provide you with legal advice that relates to your unique situation), you may be able to gain full custody of your children to keep them safe from your emotionally or physically abusive spouse.