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Domestic violence can take many forms. However, it is generally the actions of someone trying to control another person using force, coercion, or intimidation. 

It’s important to remember that all forms of abuse are wrong – whether physical or not. Ending domestic violence is urgent because there were 127,082 police-reported victims in 2021 alone. This equates to 336 abused people for every 100,000 population. 

What’s alarming is that this is the fifth consecutive year these cases have continued to rise. The numbers show that women are twice more likely to suffer from domestic violence than men. 

Another reason domestic violence should end now is that it results in long-term and immediate social, health, and economic repercussions. The good news is the Canadian government is learning more about the matter to get to the bottom of the problem.

Woman holding ripped heart

The Criminal Code of Canada contains the general application and offences on various forms of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence (IPV). Six Canadian provinces and three territories have already enacted legislation to curb family violence. These include the following: 

  • Saskatwechan
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Manitoba
  • Alberta 
  • Yukon
  • Nunavut 
  • Northwest Territories 

If you or anyone in your circle is a victim of domestic abuse, know that you can get referrals. Aside from confiding to your family and friends, breaking the chain of violence would be best. It’s not your fault that your spouse or intimate partner is hurting you, but you should not ignore it. 

We at Nussbaum Family Law can help protect yourself and the other victims in your family. We are a team of experienced, compassionate domestic violence attorneys who can help victims like you. Reach out to us today so that we can fight for your rights.

Key Takeaways

  • Your and your kids’ safety should be of paramount concern.
  • Always have an escape plan when your spouse or intimate partner gets abusive.
  • Don’t wait until it’s too late to report the abuse.
  • Seek help from family and friends as you also report the matter to the police. This move will be good for your physical well-being and mental health.
  • Never blame yourself for your spouse or intimate partner’s violent nature. Nothing can justify violence, most especially towards your loved ones.

What are the signs of domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a silent epidemic. It’s also challenging to spot because the signs are often subtle. The abuser doesn’t always look like the popular idea of a perpetrator.

Abusive behavior is more than just causing physical injuries or bruises. It is about achieving power and control over another person. The abusers use threats and intimidation to keep their victims from leaving them. It’s not always easy to spot if you’re not looking for it. 

When we talk about domestic abuse, it includes emotional hurt. It can consist of any of the following violent behaviour: 

2 business men arm wrestling
  • Name-calling or other forms of verbal abuse 
  • Use of excessive physical force during arguments 
  • Diminishing the other person’s self-worth through insults 
  • Threatening behaviour
  • Withholding of affection
  • Dictating what the victim wears and who they talk to
  • Controlling how much money they spend or how they spend it
  • Isolating the victim from friends or family
  • Telling them what they should do with their lives
  • Forcing them to feel guilty for things they haven’t done 
  • Punishing them for “bad behaviour”
  • Forcing them into sexual situations they’re not comfortable with

Sometimes domestic violence happens gradually, so you may not realize what’s happening until it’s too late. However, some clear signs of domestic violence can help determine if something is wrong. If you experience any of the situations above, it’s best to talk to a domestic violence lawyer in Toronto. 



Physical abuse is the most apparent sign of domestic violence, ranging from hitting and punching to more severe injuries. In some cases, domestic abuse may also include using knives or guns. In addition to physical violence, other warning signs include the following: 

  • Unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Fear of being alone with their partner
  • Their partner constantly accuses the victim of cheating on them
  • The partner continually blames the victim for not loving them enough

If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, there’s a good chance it’ll keep coming. This is because domestic violence tends to be cyclical. It can start small, then escalate over time. 

If you’re hurt, visit your healthcare provider for immediate medical attention. 


These involve manipulation, emotional blackmail, and isolation from friends and family. Abusers often use their partner’s low self-esteem to keep them in the relationship. This can be very hard for the victim to break away.

Emotional abuse can be intentional or unintentional and subtle or overt. It’s not always physical, but it is still abuse. It doesn’t always have to be physical assault, and it’s often a precursor to physical violence.

Signs that someone is suffering from emotional abuse may include:

  • Not being able to make decisions without consulting your abuser first
  • Your partner constantly criticizes you or puts you down
  • Being made to feel guilty about everything, from your appearance to your behaviour
couple fighting and sad
couple fighting and sad


Sexual violence comes in many forms. It includes coercing a partner into unwanted sexual activity. Signs of sexual abuse include:

  • Sexual assault 
  • Being forced to do sexual acts that make you uncomfortable
  • Being threatened with punishment if you refuse to have sex with your partner

It can also include sexual comments or advances, nudity, and other forms of unwanted sexual activity. This may be a way for an abuser to maintain power over their partner. Sadly, it can happen over time or on a single occasion.


Social abuse is a form of domestic violence that includes behaviours meant to isolate and control the victim. One way it can manifest is through controlling with whom the victim spends time. It could also be restricting where they go. 

Another common form of social abuse is preventing the victim from having access to money or transportation. Without these, the victim will have to stay home where the abuser can watch over them. 

While this may seem less serious than physical abuse, social abuse is just as dangerous. The stress caused by social abuse can increase cortisol levels in the body. This is the same stress response typically seen in victims of physical violence.

Man signing divorce paper, woman trying to stop him
Man angry looking away and child is holding hand of mother


Financial abuse happens when someone you love tries to control your money or take it from you. A financial abuser can do this in any of the following ways: 

  • Not letting you work
  • Keeping your paycheck
  • Not letting you have a bank account or credit card
  • Requiring you to ask for permission to buy things

Restricting the victim’s access to money keeps them dependent on their abuser. Financial abuse puts the latter in a position of helplessness, feeling they can’t leave the relationship.  Because they have no means of subsistence, they think they have no choice but to stay. 


When people think of domestic violence in Ontario, it’s rare for them to consider spiritual abuse. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In most cases, spiritual abuse involves forcing their partners to conform to their abuser’s beliefs. 

Spiritual abuse is a form of domestic violence that can be hard to identify. The abuser may even use the scripture or religious tradition to justify their actions. They may claim that the victim is not spiritual enough or isn’t living up to their potential as a person of faith.

The signs of spiritual abuse are subtle but can harm your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. They include forbidding their partners from reading certain religious books or articles or attending church. An abuser may accuse their partner of being “unspiritual” if they disagree with their beliefs. This happens even if scripture does not support those beliefs.

man leaving with suitcase, woman crying

The abuser may subject the victim to daily sermons about what they need to do to please God. They may also tell the abused victim they’re being punished for certain behaviours and must repent. Abusers may make victims believe God wants them to do something specific, like leave their job or school. They might also ask if victims have prayed or been praying enough lately.

What specific domestic abuse resources should you know?

If you’re confused about what to do next, here are resources and support services to help figure out your situation. 


This fact sheet has four sections: issues, laws, facts, and community resources. The issue part discusses the severity of IPV and its typical forms. It also emphasizes that domestic violence is a global problem affecting millions. It can occur in private and public spaces. 

The law discussion highlights the history and applicability of the Criminal Code of Canada in IPV cases. Furthermore, it discusses social legislation enacted by six Canadian provinces and three territories. 

The section on facts shares key IPV facts based on police reports and self-reported data. These facts focused on statistics involving the following: 

  • Young women from 15 to 24 years old
  • Indigenous women
  • Members of the lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual community  
  • People of a sexual orientation
  • Women with disabilities 
  • Visible minor women 
Domestic Violence


This is a one-stop shop of family violence information for people needing information about domestic violence in Toronto. The web pages contain helpful information encouraging visitors to be safe and be a solution. It also offers links to services, resources, and support groups in specific areas. 

The website also provides information on family violence-related federal funding opportunities. The country’s Family Violence Initiative started this page. This brings together agencies, departments, and the federal government to respond to and prevent family violence. 


The VSD is an advocacy and brainchild of the Department of Justice Canada’s Policy Centre for Victim Issues. It seeks to help individuals, victims, and service providers locate crime victims across the country. It provides resources about spousal abuse in Ontario. It also includes contact details of offices victims of different crimes can visit.


What steps should you take when your partner becomes violent?

When your spouse shows abusive behaviour, you have to make a choice. You can either choose to leave the relationship or stay and try to work things out. However, the most rational decision is to get help. If you’re physically hurt, seek medical care. The violence will likely continue to escalate.  

There are various reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. Some of them feel they have nowhere else to go or don’t deserve better than they have. They may fear for their safety or the safety of their children if they leave. Some even feel that the law can’t protect them. 

Victims of domestic violence fear that no one will believe them if they tell someone about the abuse. Others think it’s natural for men to be aggressive and expect it from their partners, which isn’t true. 

If you’re in an abusive relationship, try talking with someone who knows both of you. It could be a friend or family member who can help sort out what happened. Ask for help to ensure everyone stays safe while figuring out how to move forward.

You should also seek medical attention. The injuries you sustain may require hospitalization or surgery. Go to a hospital or urgent care center for treatment.

A third option is to contact law enforcement. You must report domestic abuse to the police. They will take the situation very seriously and ensure no further incidents happen from that point forward.

Domestic Violence


When your spouse is violent, it’s essential to understand that it’s not your fault. This will help you to feel more empowered and less helpless in the situation. You should avoid blaming yourself for your partner’s behaviour, even though it may be tempting to do so. 

It can be tough to accept that this behaviour is not something you could have stopped. Your spouse may have been violent toward you, but that doesn’t mean you deserve it.

It’s important to know that abusive behaviour is 100% the abuser’s responsibility. When you understand that your partner’s aggression has nothing to do with you, it will be easier to respond without feeling guilty.

You should also make sure that you’re in a safe place. If possible, ensure that there are no weapons nearby and call the police if necessary.


If your partner becomes violent, you must have an escape route, especially if you have children. This will ensure you can leave the house safely with your kids. If there’s no escape route, you’ll be trapped and unable to protect yourself or your children.

Know where to go for help and how to get there safely. You should plan alternate routes if the first one is blocked or too dangerous due to traffic or weather conditions.

Next, ensure you have basic supplies, like food, water, blankets, and a flashlight with batteries. Keep these supplies in a bag that you can easily carry. 

Finally, consider keeping some money on hand. Store cash in an envelope under your mattress so you can pay for your getaway when necessary.


You can report abuse by phone or by going to your local police station in person. The responding officer will take down your statements and investigate your spouse’s behaviour.

If you can leave the situation safely, do so immediately. Take your children with you or ensure they are somewhere safe before leaving.

The police can help you get a protection order prohibiting your spouse from contacting or coming near you. If your spouse violates this order, the police can arrest them.

According to the Domestic Violence Protection Act, the following persons can apply for an order of protection: 

  • Present or former spouses 
  • Present or former same-sex partners 
  • Cohabiting individuals or common-law spouses 
  • People in a dating relationship
  • Relatives residing in the same household 
Couple with rings off signing divorce papers

The law empowers the Supreme Court of Ontario to issue an intervention order after an application on notice. An intervention order will only prosper if the party alleging abuse can show that the abuse puts them at risk of danger or harm. 

Furthermore, the same order may contain the following provisions: 

  • Prohibiting the respondent from going near a person or place
  • Stopping the respondent from engaging in harassing, annoying, or threatening conduct
  • Forcing the respondent to vacate the victim’s residence 
  • Requiring police escorts to remove one’s belonging’s from the applicant’s residence
  • Requiring peace officers to seize the respondent’s weapons and their permits when they use these to commit domestic violence


A violent partner can be emotionally and physically draining, especially if you’ve been with them for a long time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by their behaviour, consider reaching out to loved ones to help you through this difficult time.

They can support you in many ways, including giving you a place to stay and helping you find legal help. They can also help you decide what steps to take next—whether to leave the relationship or stay with your partner.

Call 911 if you are in imminent danger (not available in Nunavut) or message someone online for help. Talk to someone at a local shelter or crisis line about what’s happening in your relationship. They’ll be able to connect you with counselling and other resources that can help you get out of the situation safely.

It can be challenging to ask for help when your spouse is violent. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. There are people who want to help—you just have to ask.


Petitioning the court for possession of the family home means the other party must move out. The court may grant this if you need protection from domestic violence. However, exclusive possession doesn’t nullify or affect financial rights over marital property.



Violence can escalate quickly and without warning. If you feel unsafe with your partner, get out of the situation as soon as possible. Once you’re safe, consider discussing your options for ending the relationship with an experienced family lawyer in Toronto. They can help you know your rights and assist with filing paperwork to seek legal remedies for domestic abuse.   

Domestic violence lawyers are experts in substantive and procedural laws. They also have a clear understanding of legal jurisdictions. When you file a case, your lawyer ensures that it’s with courts that cover domestic violence laws in Ontario. They understand that procedural law bears the same weight as substantive law

Here are other ways your family abuse lawyer can help you in a domestic violence case.

Represent your interest in court

A lawyer can help you in a domestic violence case by helping you obtain a restraining order. They can assist you with divorce proceedings and custody issues and advocate for you in court.

When you are involved in a domestic violence case, you must have someone who will represent your interests in court. They can effectively describe to the court what happened during the abusive incident. 

Having a domestic assault lawyer also helps ensure documentation and enforcement of agreements between you and the other party.

Secure a restraining order 

A lawyer can carry out the process of getting a restraining order against the other party. This will ensure they cannot come near or contact you until the resolution of the case. A lawyer can work with law enforcement to ensure the alleged abuser does not violate this order. 

Assist in divorce proceedings 

A lawyer can assist with divorce proceedings that use domestic violence as grounds. They could help ensure a fair division of marital assets, which physical injuries sustained during an incident can complicate.

They will also help ensure that child custody arrangements are fair for both parents. They will ensure that neither one gets more than their fair share of time raising their children as co-parents.

Domestic Violence


The most important thing is your safety and well-being. If you are a domestic violence or abuse victim, you must be ready to leave the person causing you harm. Your abusive partner might never change. Sometimes abusers will apologize and promise to change. However, if they consistently revert to abusive behaviour, there’s no reason to believe now will be any different. The longer an abusive relationship goes on without intervention, the more likely it becomes dangerous for all parties involved. If you don’t take legal action, your abuser will not have any incentive to change. They will not get kicked out of their home or lose custody of their children because of their behaviour. Unless they see a considerable loss or someone makes them realize their toxicity, it’s unlikely that this behaviour will ever stop. Break away from the shackles of domestic violence. Talk to us, and we will help you get through it. You deserve happiness and peace in your life. Our team of compassionate and competent family lawyers has the experience and skill to help you get through this. Reach out to Nussbaum Family Law today.