Relationship Violence

Relationship violence may include physical, psychological or sexual abuse, and/or criminal harassment/stalking. According to Statistics Canada, the overwhelming majority of victims of spousal violence continue to be women. Many abusers become increasingly violent when they fear their partner is leaving or they are losing control over them. Many victims are killed when they attempt to leave the abusive partner. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or local police.

Personal Safety Plans
Experts advise people living in an abusive situation to develop a safety plan with the following in mind.

  • If possible, pre-program emergency numbers into your phone, including 911.
  • Keep a phone in a room you can lock from the inside.
  • Plan an escape route out of your home and teach it to your children.
  • Try to save money at every opportunity, even enough for a phone call.
  • If possible, an extra key to a vehicle should be hidden.
  • Gather important personal documents, including items like birth certificates and social insurance numbers. Put these in a safe place, preferably outside your home, such as a safety deposit box or with a trusted friend.
  • Pack a suitcase of essential items, such as clothing and medicines, and store it in a safe place.
  • Have a list of shelters and phone numbers accessible but hidden. If you are ready to leave, keep checking to see if there is space for you and your children.
  • Work out a code word that can be used on the phone with a trusted person. The code could mean to contact the police to inform them that you are leaving.
  • Do not go to a friend or relative’s house if your partner is likely to try and find you there. This can be dangerous for you and those trying to help you.

For a personalized safety plan, please contact a women’s emergency shelter for assistance.

Protection Orders
In Alberta, the Protection Against Family Violence Act allows for three types of protection orders to be granted.

Emergency Protection Order
An Emergency Protection Order can provide immediate protection to victims of family violence. A police officer or child protection worker can obtain this order 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on behalf of the victim, through a presiding justice of the peace. Victims can also apply for an order directly at a provincial court during court hours. There is no cost to obtain this order.

Emergency Protection Orders can include some or all of these provisions.

  • The abusive family member can be prohibited from being at or near specified places such as the home, school or workplace.
  • The abusive family member can be barred from communicating with or contacting the abused family member.
  • Police can be authorized to remove the abusive person from the home.
  • Police can be authorized to help a victim remove personal belongings from the home.
  • Police can be authorized to seize and store weapons.
  • Other provisions, if required to provide immediate protection, can be added.

Queen’s Bench Protection Order
A Queen’s Bench Protection Order provides long-term protection from family violence. The order can remain in effect for up to one year, at which time an extension may be requested.

A Queen’s Bench Protection Order can be obtained in two ways.

  • A Court of Queen’s Bench justice may issue it during a review of an Emergency Protection Order.
  • A request can be submitted directly to the Court of Queen’s Bench. Legal assistance may be required to submit an application.

A Queen’s Bench Protection Order may include some or all of these provisions.

  • The abusive family member can be prohibited from being at or near specified places such as the home, workplace or school.
  • The abuser can be barred from contacting the victim or subjecting them to violence.
  • The victim can be given temporary, exclusive occupation of the home.
  • The abusive family member can be ordered to reimburse the victim monetary losses resulting from relationship violence.
  • Police can be authorized to remove the abuser from the home.
  • Police can be authorized to help a victim remove personal belongings from the home.

Warrant Permitting Entry
Police can obtain a warrant permitting entry from a justice of the peace if they are refused access to a family member and believe the person is a victim of violence. A Warrant Permitting Entry allows police to enter a home or other building to search for and ensure a family member is safe. Police can help that family member leave the home, if he or she consents.

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