Domestic violence occurs when a family member, partner or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm the other. Domestic violence can have many forms including physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, economic deprivation and threats of violence. When an individual is charged with domestic violence, many factors come into the court’s consideration. These factors include:
- the mode of violence: physical, psychological, sexual and/or social;
- the frequency of violence: one time, occasionally, chronically; and
- the severity of violence: psychological/physical harm, need for treatment, transitory/permanent injury.
Physical Violence: Physical violence can range from unwanted contact to murder. Examples of physical violence include hitting, shoving, biting, restraint, kicking or the use of a weapon.
Sexual Violence: Sexual violence is a form of physical violence which includes all forms of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. Forcing a family member or partner to participate in any unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity is domestic sexual assault. Sexual Assault also includes: ridiculing to denigrate, control or limit a person’s sexuality or reproductive choices, using children for sexual purposes, fondling, manipulating or forcing individuals to engage in sexual activity or intercourse, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, or involving a child in prostitution or pornography.
Psychological (Mental/Emotional) Violence: Psychological violence includes verbal threats, insults, gestures, body positions and attacks. Threats of physical violence can range from explicit and detailed to implicit and vague. Examples of psychological violence include humiliating or embarrassing the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, isolation from family and friends.
Economic/Social Abuse: Economic and Social abuse is the control over money, economic resources and contact with friends/family. This type of violence isolates individuals from social contacts. Prevention from finishing educational training or obtaining employment is a form of economic abuse.
Neglect: Neglect is a form of domestic abuse that usually involves repeated incidents. These include: failing to provide a child or dependent adult with necessities required for his or her physical, psychological or emotional development and well-being, and failing to provide or denying food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and protection from harm.
Spiritual Abuse: Spiritual abuse includes preventing an individual from engaging in spiritual or religious practices, using an individual’s religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate or control them, and ridiculing or denigrating someone’s beliefs.
What Steps Can I Take?
Domestic assault is a very serious charge that has the potential to lead to jail time. If you have been charged with domestic violence, do not give any information to the police other than your name and other identifiers (e.g. birth date, address); ask to contact a lawyer immediately. Our offices can be reached 24-hours a day by phoning (204) 771-4278, or by asking the police to contact Brodsky & Company.
The police are not interviewing you to obtain evidence of your innocence or to find out what really happened. They are, instead, trying to find facts that they can use against you. Additionally, if you case goes to trial and there is a deviation between your sworn testimony (if you choose to testify) and your statement to the police, no matter how trivial, the Crown Attorney will attack your personal creditability. The police do not have to tell you the truth and will often attempt to trick a suspect into speaking to them. Common tricks are for a police officer to say something like, “Look, if nothing happened, just tell us and you’ll be okay,” or, “It’s your right not to say anything, but I know if I was accused of beating my child and I hadn’t done it, I’d sure want my version on the record,” or, “Let’s go outside for a walk in the hall, just the two of us, no notebooks,” or, “If you talk to us now, things will be a lot easier on you later.” Do not give a statement; instead insist on contacting a lawyer. If you do not wish to contact a private lawyer, you can speak with legal aid duty counsel, available 24 hours.