What do I need to know about family violence?
Some important words about family violence
“Family violence” is a term that includes many different forms of physical or psychological abuse or neglect. It can be experienced by adults or children in a family.
Many forms of family violence are crimes, including:
- physical abuse (such as hitting, punching, kicking, burning, cutting, stabbing, forcibly confining or shooting);
- sexual abuse (such as any unwanted sexual touching or sexual activity and any sexual conduct with children)
- some forms of psychological abuse (such as threatening violence, destroying property, stalking),
- financial abuse (such as taking a pay cheque, failing to provide the necessaries of life).
Other forms of family violence are not crimes but are often signs that violence will get worse (such as yelling, humiliating, controlling movements).
Family violence can have serious – and sometimes fatal – consequences for victims and those that witness the violence.
If your spouse physically or psychologically abused you or your children, your family’s future safety becomes of primary concern. There are many people and organizations available to help you in this situation, such as lawyers, social workers, counsellors, support groups or your local shelter or transition house.
Traditional mediation or counselling with your spouse may not be appropriate in these circumstances. However, in some provinces or territories, specialized counselling procedures have been developed to support couples when there are concerns about violence. Working together doesn’t always mean sitting in the same room.