Legal & Non-Legal Resources To Turn To With Domestic Violence & Marital Conflict During COVID
Marital discord is at an all-time high due to the financial and health stressors. Especially with its sudden and unexpected burden on Albertan families. An unfortunate component of this is a corresponding increase in the rates of domestic violence and abuse. The physical distance measures put in place to reduce the spread of the corona virus created situations where abusers increasingly exert their power and control over their victims. With much of society shut down, inevitably victims and abusers remain trapped in the same home. Many victims wondering what the available avenues of assistance for domestic violence and martial conflict. Lastly, it is important to know that many resources exist for anyone in need, depending on the circumstances detailed below.
Have further questions after reading? Email the family law lawyers at Kahane Law Office in both Calgary and Edmonton Alberta.
What Is Family Violence?
The Protection Against Family Violence Act is Alberta’s governing legislation which defines Family Violence. Family violence is an abuse of power in a family or other trusting relationship where people rely on each other. For example, this type of domestic violence includes:
- physical, verbal, emotional, financial and sexual abuse;
- neglect, stalking, threats and forced confinement; and lastly
- acts which threaten or intimidate by creating a reasonable fear of injury, harm or property damage.
It is important to note that actual physical abuse does not need to actually occur. Protection exists for potential or threatening behaviors to qualify as Family Violence and warrant protection available by the Alberta Courts.
Additionally, this Act does not just protect current spouses and common law partners, but it includes parties who have had a child together, ex-spouses / partners, and individuals who are related by blood, marriage or adoption.
What To Do If You Or Someone You Know Experiences Domestic Violence?
Always call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger or threat from harm. The Police and RCMP respond even if you have COVID-19, are in self-isolation or are in mandated quarantine with symptoms.
In situations of family violence or domestic violence, the three Protective Orders available from the Alberta Courts to both the victims and relevant family members include as follows:
Emergency Protection Order (“EPO”):
Granted when there is a need for immediate protection. The police secure this if they investigate a domestic disturbance (In person or via phone call). The Order may include removal of the offender from the home and for them not to return. This Order is initially granted without notice to the offender. The Queen’s Bench Court then reviews it within 9 workings days. If the original Emergency Protection Order is confirmed by the Court as necessary, the court replaces it with a Queen’s Bench Protection Order.
Restraining Order (Family Violence):
This Order is obtained in Court (without police assistance) and can also be initially granted without notice to the offender. You must be afraid for your physical safety prior to the Order being granted. You need to complete a Restraining Order Application Form at the Courthouse. The Order contains a review date. At that time the offender attends to speak to any allegations at that time.
Queen’s Bench Protection Order:
The Order applies in situations that are not as urgent as an EPO or Restraining Order. Due to this, the accused person receives notice so that both parties attend Court before the judge. If the Court is satisfied there has been family violence or there is a threat of any type of domestic violence, the Court grants a Protection Order.
Given the realities of the present pandemic, a person’s ability to leave the home often has limitation. In that instance, an EPO is more than likely the appropriate option. If you face immediate danger or are a victim of Family Violence, as defined above, call a police officer and explain your situation to them. If they feel you need an Emergency Protection Order they then take your statement and present it to a Justice of the Peace on your behalf. The Justice of the Peace then issues an Order for Protection. The Order takes effect immediately and, depending on circumstances, may result in the offender’s removal from the home you reside in. Lastly, if the police officer does not feel compelled to obtain an EPO for you, the option exists for you to attend at the Courthouse for an EPO or Restraining Order directly from the Court.
A Kahane Family Law lawyer assist people in the process of obtaining any protection orders, with or without notice as set out above. Above all, no one deserves to experience domestic violence.
Need Help But Not Sure You Need A Protection Order?
If you or someone you know is experiencing increasing conflict within the home, two key contacts exist in Alberta:
|Telephone (24 Hours/Day)||Text / Chat (Weekdays)||
|Family Violence Support||310-1818||
|Sagesse.org/contact (M-F 9am-5pm)||Yes||Sagess.org|
Domestic violence or otherwise, both of these organizations are a good first contact and they offer texting / chat if you cannot make a call from home. They assist with all family violence related issues, including the following:
- Initial Crisis Intervention;
- Crisis counselling;
- Safety Planning (both long term and short term);
- Access to resources for shelters, interim housing;
- Access to resources for funding to ensure your basic needs are met if you leave the home; and lastly
- Connecting you with legal aid if you cannot afford a private lawyer.
Even though the Women’s Shelters cannot take in as many women and children as they historically have, the provincial and federal governments provided funding to create space for victims in nearby hotels. These organizations assist in getting you the help you need to get you through this crisis.
What If You Experience Intimate Physical Violence?
Intimate physical violence is a form of sexual abuse which constitutes Family Violence under the Protection Against Family Violence Act. This type of conduct warrants a Protection Order, as set out above.
Alberta has fourteen different sexual assault services. They provide specialized and distinct services to individuals and families across Alberta. For help with this Alberta Sexual Assault hotline call or text at 1-866-403-8000. Their website www.aasas.ca/get-help provides links to various agencies around Alberta. Lastly, no one deserves to experience any violence. Please get the help you need.
What If Your Relationship Is Deteriorating?
People need help not just with domestic violence. People’s stress levels increased significantly throughout this Covid-19 period. Relationship counselling is a viable option throughout the social distancing phase of the pandemic and is highly recommended to couples who are experiencing higher than normal conflict due to the novel COVID related stressors. Similarly, all psychologists, social workers and counselors in Alberta have transitioned to video counselling sessions to assist parties during this time period. In addition, many offices offer reduced rates to take into account the economic impact occurring throughout Alberta.
To find a local psychologist, social worker or counsellor to assist with domestic violence, stress or a deteriorating relationship visit Psychology Today at www.psychologytoday.ca.
Other Resources For Mental Health And Life Stressors
The Provincial Government just approved $53 million in funding to assist with the mental health of Albertans throughout this time. If you experience increased anxiety, concerns about losing your job, struggling with addiction, suicidal thoughts, or depression from the current pandemic, the following agencies are there to assist 24/7:
- AB Mental Health Helpline 1-(877)-303–2643
- Calgary Distress Centre 1-(403)-266-HELP (4357) www.distresscentre.com
Alberta 211 is also an effective resource for assistance with basis needs, emergency funding, emergency housing, mental health and various other community resources. Simply call ‘211’ from a phone in Alberta or visit www.ab.211.ca to review the entire list of available resources.
Concerned About Someone Else Or Suspect Domestic Violence Or Abuse?
When family violence occurs it is oftentimes silent, leaving you unaware if this occurring in your neighbor’s house or with a good friend or relative. If you have reason to believe this is occurring reach out to that person and inquire. Consider coming up with a safe word or emoji that they can notify you if abuse is occurring and help is needed. It is important to note that the organization Sagesse offers a program called “Stand By” for people who are supporting victims of family violence. They can be contacted at (403) 234-7337.
Next, if you suspect child abuse, it is your duty to report it. You can call Child Services at 1 (800) 387 KIDS.
Kahane Family Law: Helping With Domestic Violence And More
The Kahane Family Law team has ample experience with the various Protection Orders and assisting clients through the stressful circumstance of Family Violence. When protection orders are granted there is typically an immediate need to determine support and parenting plans. Many times Family Violence is the start of the separation and divorce process. If you have any questions about the various Protection Order options, need assistance with any support or parenting matters or you are seeking a consult to see what your post-separation life may look like, please get in touch. Email us for the fastest responce: Email us directly here. In addition, feel free to call 403-225-8810 or toll-free at 1-877-225-8817.