Family violence is any type of abuse or violence that occurs within a family. Family violence is always unacceptable and is often also illegal activity. Any of the following forms of abuse are examples of family violence:
Physical: hitting, kicking, pushing, and other forms of unwanted physical contact
Sexual: unwanted sexual activity including touching, fondling and sexual intercourse without consent, sexual harassment, sending or posting intimate images without consent, and other unwanted acts of a sexual nature
Emotional or Psychological: isolating, threatening, coercing, calling names, and other forms of harassment
If you are the victim of family violence, there are several legal and non-legal resources available to help you. Options include:
Victims might want to consider doing all the above. It might be useful to consider keeping important things together in case it is necessary to leave your shared space quickly. Some things to consider include:
Contact information for services that provide assistance to victims of family violence can be found at the end of this publication.
A peace bond is a court order that places specific conditions on a person’s behaviour. These conditions may include: to keep the peace; not to communicate with you in any manner; or not to possess a firearm.
There are two types of peace bond application that can be made:
Normally, all peace bond applications are made to the Provincial Court (Criminal Division). If you make an application to the court for a peace bond because of a family violence situation, the court may refer you to the police. Make sure to apply for the peace bond in the court closest to where the threatening events are happening.
Application forms are available at any Provincial Court location or on the Provincial Court website. The telephone number and address for the Provincial Court serving your region can be found on the Provincial Court website under the “Contact” tab.
Once an application is filled out and provided to the court, a summons must be served on the person named in your application. A summons is a document that tells a person when they must appear in court. You must also appear in court on that date. At that time, if the person named does not agree to the terms of a peace bond, then the matter will be scheduled for a hearing at a later date.
At the peace bond hearing, you and your witnesses will testify. Make sure you bring any evidence you have which will support your case. The accused and his/her witnesses will also have an opportunity to testify. The Judge will decide, based on the evidence presented, whether a peace bond should be put in place.
There is no fee to apply for a peace bond and the order can be put in place for up to twelve months. If the person ordered to follow the peace bond breaks a condition, you should immediately report it to the police. They may decide to lay a criminal charge. If the charge is proven in court, the punishment may include jail time.
If someone has summoned you to appear at a peace bond hearing, you should begin to prepare for your day in court. You must appear in court at the time stated in the summons. If you do not appear in court at the time on the summons, a warrant could be issued for your arrest . If no agreement is reached at the first hearing, you will need to make arguments to support your case at the next court date. You have the right to have a lawyer represent you at these hearings if you wish, but a lawyer is not required.
It is important for both parties to know that a judge will only grant a peace bond if the person applying for the bond has a reasonable belief that you will harm them, their property, or another person as stated in the bond application. You may want to present evidence that shows that you are unlikely to carry out the harm. It may also be helpful to summon witnesses who could testify in court in a way that supports your case.
If a peace bond is granted by a judge, you must sign it and obey its terms. While being ordered to sign a peace bond is not a criminal offence (and will not be added to a criminal record), failing to sign the peace bond is a criminal offence, punishable by up to twelve months imprisonment. Breaking the terms of a peace bond is also a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment.
To get an EPO you need to live or have lived in a conjugal relationship (meaning married or living together in a similar way to being married), or have a child with the other person. This includes married, common law, and same sex couples. If an EPO is granted, it can allow police to remove that person from the home, take away any firearms or weapons, give you temporary custody of the home and the children, and any other conditions the court thinks necessary.
The police can make an application for an EPO for you at any time, 24 hours a day. The police need your consent to make the application.
If you apply for the EPO yourself or have it done by a lawyer, you can only apply during regular court hours at Provincial Court. Application forms are available from the Provincial Court or online at the Provincial Court website.
Normally, the judge will decide if an EPO will be granted within 24 hours of receiving the application. An EPO is temporary and will not last for more than ninety days. An EPO is a court order-breaching the order can result in criminal charges and imprisonment.