Domestic violence often occurs in secret and involves the abuser abusing their position of power. Due to this, reporting domestic violence may be challenging. This article describes the steps involved in reporting a domestic abuse complaint.
A quick tip: You can call a health facility, victim services, community group, shelter, or the neighbourhood police to report the violence if the situation is not currently dangerous. They can assist you in deciding what to do next.
Let’s get into the discussion.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a behavioural pattern that occurs when one person exercises authority and control over another person with whom they now or earlier had a close connection. It can also occur in workplaces, households, and between strangers, friends, and acquaintances.
It frequently happens in a private setting amongst acquaintances. Most of the time, domestic violence includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, psychological abuse, and technological abuse.
Note that: Abuse is a learned trait; it is not brought on by rage, mental illness, alcoholism, drug use, or any other usual justifications.
How to Report Domestic Violence in Canada?
You can contact the SOS domestic abuse hotline if you have witnessed or suffered domestic violence and are unsure what to do. They can give you details, assistance, or entry to a shelter and provide you with 24/7 free language assistance. You can go to their website as well.
Call 911 if you require immediate assistance. As soon as possible, the dispatcher will deploy the police to the scene. Anyone, including children, neighbours, and strangers, can phone 911 to report domestic abuse.
Contact your neighbourhood police department if you want to register a complaint but do not need immediate assistance. They will let you know if an officer will meet you or if you should go to your neighbourhood police station to talk to an officer.
Let’s see what the entire process will take to report domestic violence in Canada:
1. Informing the police
The first thing to do is make a report to the police. They will note all the basic information and ask you or the witness to write down your statements and sign them. It would help if you made your statement clear and transparent, as it’s important.
You can inform additional information later if you want. Photos or medical records are great documents that can work in your favour. So, use these things if possible.
2. Pressing charge
When domestic violence is a factor in a crime, the police have additional procedures. If you report domestic abuse, you can anticipate that the police will arrest the person if the report is valid.
You should be aware, though, that merely being arrested does not guarantee that a person will end up in jail. The suspect may be detained by the police or released with restrictions until their court appearance.
If the police decide to let the suspect go, they will demand a commitment from them to abide by specific rules until their court date. These conditions often prohibit contacting you or the other parties involved. This can even prevent the suspect from staying with you any longer.
Conditions may also place limitations on access and visits if minors are involved. The defendant may be accused of a felony if they violate these rules.
3. “Bail hearing” detaining the suspect
The offender will often go before a judge for a “bail hearing” within 24 hours of being detained by the police. The judge will decide the suspect’s custody status at this hearing.
They must set restrictions that consider domestic violence involved if the judge grants them parole. This indicates that they will attempt to implement restrictions to safeguard you and stop further abuse.
5. Court deciding the accusations
No charges will necessarily be brought against the suspect, even if the cops do so. The initial case is filed from the investigator to the criminal and penal defending lawyer. The prosecutor subsequently decides to charge the defendant with a crime officially.
The suspect is now formally charged as the “accused.” You’ll get a letter with the accused’s name and the charges after the charges are approved. It may take a few days, weeks, or even months to complete this process.
6. Charging the alleged offender for a complaint
Prosecutors are subject to different guidelines than the police in domestic violence cases.
Before or after the prosecutor approves the charges, you can revoke your complaint. However, the prosecutor has the power to decide whether to proceed with a trial or not.
Even if you choose not to testify at trial, the prosecution will review the evidence to determine whether they believe they can persuade the jury of the accused’s guilt. If so, the prosecution will try to proceed with the case without having you testify.
If you notify the prosecutor that you do not wish to pursue your complaint, they will often not try to coerce you into testifying. The prosecutor will contact you to ensure that you are not being blackmailed or under pressure and to discuss the significance of your testimony.
In extremely rare situations, the prosecution could ask you to provide a judge with an explanation of why you don’t want to testify.
How Can You Help a Victim?
There are some ways you can follow to assist someone who is facing or at risk from domestic violence:
- Consider what they are saying, show them encouragement, and pay attention.
- Be non-judgmental and allow them to decide for themselves.
- Offer to watch the kids while they look for assistance.
- Provide a safe zone in your house or another site.
- Encourage them to develop a safety plan that may include, among other things, gathering a modest supply of essentials, making arrangements for child and pet care, and creating a personal bank account beforehand.
- Call your neighbourhood shelter or a service provider that helps victims of domestic abuse by dialling one of the regional crisis lines.
- Dial 911 for an emergency.
Domestic abuse can affect everyone, regardless of age, race, economic situation, religion, sexual orientation, or level of education. Although it can happen to men, domestic violence primarily affects women—seven out of ten women and girls are victims of domestic abuse.
A survivor’s mental and physical well-being can be affected by violent experiences both immediately after the incident and years afterward. So, get legal help from domestic violence lawyers and try to be in touch with counsellors or close people while going through the issue. Also, give proper assistance to a victim.