The Legal Services Society is the agency that provides legal aid in BC. Victims of family violence and parents with low income may qualify - learn more.
Domestic violence is any form of violent or abusive behaviour that happens during a relationship or after a relationship ends. Abuse or violence in a relationship can take many forms and it may be named different things: domestic violence, family violence, relationship violence, spousal abuse, or wife abuse.
Domestic violence may include more than physical or sexual violence; it can include other forms of abuse in an attempt to control or intimidate someone. Domestic violence exists on a continuum that can include intimidation, mental or emotional abuse, financial exploitation, stalking and harassment.
Physical abuse can be any kind of hitting, shaking, burning, pinching, biting, choking, throwing, beating, and other actions that cause physical injury, leave marks, or cause pain. For more information, see this Help Starts Here infosheet.
Emotional abuse happens when yelling and anger go too far or when parents constantly criticize, threaten, or dismiss kids or teens until their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth are damaged. Emotional abuse can hurt and cause damage just as physical abuse does. For more information, see this Help Starts Here infosheet.
Sexual abuse is any type of sexual contact between an adult and anyone younger than 18; between a significantly older child and a younger child; or if one person overpowers another, regardless of age. If a family member sexually abuses another family member, this is called incest. For more information, see this Help Starts Here infosheet.
Child abuse is the physical, emotional, and sexual mistreatment of a child. It includes abandonment, desertion, neglect, ill-treatment, or failure to meet the physical, emotional or medical needs of a child. It endangers a child’s survival and safety, and harms their self-esteem, growth, and/or development. It can involve a single act or a pattern of incidents. For more information, see this Help Starts Here infosheet. This short video is called The Chase.
Dating violence can involve sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse. Like most forms of abuse, it’s an attempt by the abuser to gain control over the victim. Read the Help Starts Here infosheet. “Causing Pain: Real Stories of Dating Abuse and Violence” is an Emmy Award-winning video that describes real stories about how dating abuse and violence starts, how it progresses, and how to recognize the signs of abuse.
Harassment can take the form of repetitive and unwanted texting. This video from the Ad Council shows examples of “textual harassment.” Learn more about abuse and other forms of violence at Deal.org.
Respect, honesty and trust are essential parts of a healthy relationship. Feeling hurt or upset at times is normal, but relationships should never make you feel scared, humiliated or controlled.
Domestic violence can happen in many different ways. Some signs of an abusive relationship include:
While it is more common that women experience relationship violence, it also happens to individuals in same-sex relationships and to male victims within heterosexual relationships where the dynamic of power and control is present.
Children may also become victims of domestic violence either by directly experiencing abuse themselves or by witnessing relationship violence in the home. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available through victim services and other resources.
While many types of domestic violence are criminal offences, all types of violence—physical and sexual assaults, threats, harassment and other forms of emotional abuse, and financial abuse or exploitation—are harmful.
If you or someone you know has been or is in a violent or abusive relationship, help is available. Remember, violence and abuse is never the victim’s fault. To learn more about Domestic Violence, see the Help Starts Here infosheet.
Yes. You can report any form of domestic violence to the police. Getting the police involved and getting help is critical to becoming safe and stopping the violence.
If you or your children are in immediate danger or need urgent medical attention, call 911.
If you or your children are not in a safe place, go to one. To find a transition house or safe home, call VictimLinkBC: 1-800-563-0808 or see Next Steps.
Tell someone you trust what happened. Allow a friend or family member to provide emotional support and practical help to you.
Contact victim services by calling VictimLinkBC: 1-800-563-0808. Victim service workers can help you make a safety plan. A safety plan is a plan that helps to reduce the risks that you and your children face because of a violent situation.
Go to a hospital, a walk-in clinic, or your doctor as soon as possible after being physically injured or sexually assaulted. Even if the assault is not recent, it may be important to go for a checkup.
If you want to contact the police but the situation is not urgent, call your local police station.
If you have any questions about domestic violence or abuse, or your rights, do not hesitate to ask a victim service worker.
Last reviewed: March 2016
IMPORTANT: This page provides legal information, not legal advice. If you need legal advice consult a lawyer.
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