Abuse is wrong in any family - know the law

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1 Abuse is wrong in any family - know the law What women who are newcomers and immigrants need to know about Nova Scotia domestic violence laws and resources

2 This pamphlet provides women who are newcomers and immigrants with legal information about Nova Scotia s domestic violence laws and resources. Domestic violence means one spouse or partner abuses or mistreats the other. In Canada, it is against the law to assault, threaten or harass another person. The laws apply to everyone, including married couples, people living together and those dating each other. The laws apply to everyone living permanently or temporarily in Canada. Most often it is a woman who is abused by a male partner, but sometimes the victim is male. In this pamphlet partner means husband, spouse, common-law spouse or boyfriend. A woman can also be abused

3 by a same-sex partner. If you are being abused by your partner, you do not have to stay with him. You can leave, and you can take your children with you. If you are being abused, you should talk to someone about it. There are places you can go for help and to get more information. They are listed at the end of the pamphlet. What is domestic violence? Domestic violence is physical, sexual, mental or financial abuse by a partner. Some examples are: Physical: hitting, choking, kicking or punching Sexual: forcing sex, sometimes called rape, or forcing a woman to participate in other sexual activities Mental: cutting off a woman s contact with family and friends; threatening to hurt her or her children Financial: refusing to give a woman any money so that she can buy food and other basic needs Domestic violence can happen in any family, regardless of income, education, religion or culture. It is not the woman s fault.

4 What can I do if I m being abused? You can: if you and/or your children are in danger or injured call 911 for police and medical help see a doctor leave your partner get counselling, support, safety planning, and shelter, if you need it, from a transition house contact a community organization for counselling and support. A community worker can help you decide what you need to do and help you prepare a plan if you decide to leave or have to leave in an emergency. talk with someone you trust What can I do if I am hurt? If you are physically hurt and it is an emergency, you can phone 911 and ask for medical help. If you were sexually assaulted within the past 72 hours, you can call the police to ask for an ambulance to take you to a hospital or health centre. There you have the right to ask for a female nurse. If your community has a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, you can ask the hospital or health centre staff to call SANE for you. SANE will explain your options after a sexual assault and, if you wish, do a medical exam and collect evidence. The police are not present during the exam.

5 POLICE When do the police get involved? You can call the police if your partner assaults or threatens you. If it is an emergency, phone 911. A family member, neighbour, friend or someone else might call the police if they hear or see the assault and are worried about you or your children. The police enforce the law and investigate crimes. The police will come to your home when they get a report of domestic violence. They will talk to you, your partner and any witnesses who saw or heard what happened. Will the police take my partner from our home? Yes, most likely they will. The police could arrest him and take him into custody. If he is arrested, your partner could be released by the police if he agrees to follow certain conditions, which can include: not to contact you not to go to the family home to surrender his passport If your partner was released and he contacts you, you should call the police and let them know. They may arrest him and keep him in custody until he goes to court. In Nova Scotia, police decide whether to lay a criminal charge; it is not the victim s choice. If your partner is charged, he will have to go to court. See COURT section for more information.

6 Can I help protect myself without calling the police? If you want to keep your partner away, you can apply for either an Emergency Protection Order or a Peace Bond. Emergency Protection Order (EPO): An EPO is a temporary court order made by a Justice of the Peace to protect victims of domestic violence when the situation is serious and urgent. It can be put in place right away, and lasts up to 30 days. You can apply for an EPO at anytime over the phone by calling the Justice of the Peace Centre. If you are in danger, you can go to a transition house where trained staff can help you apply for an EPO. Interpretation may sometimes be available. Peace Bond: A Peace Bond is a criminal court order. You can apply to court for a Peace Bond if you fear that your partner or ex-partner will harm you, your family, or your property. It can require that he stay away from you for as long as one year. Usually you will both have to go to a court hearing. Only a judge can order a Peace Bond. Applying for a Peace Bond can take a long time. Interpretation may sometimes be available. If you have an EPO and you think you might want to apply for a Peace Bond in the future, you should talk with a lawyer. What happens with my children? The law says that anyone who has reason to believe that a child has been harmed, or might become harmed, must report this to Child Protection Services. The harm to the child can include the child being exposed to domestic violence, even if the child is not being physically hurt.

7 If you contact domestic violence outreach services or enter a transition house, or leave the abusive partner, you may be seen as having alleviated the situation. For this reason, unless you return to the abusive situation and/or put your children in harm s way again, domestic violence outreach services and transition houses may not be required to report to Child Protection. The safety of children is always the priority for outreach and transition house staff. If a report is made, Child Protection Services will contact you. They will suggest services and resources to help you. They can remove your child from the home if they believe it is necessary in order to protect your child. If you are asked to sign anything, or your child is removed from your home, you should contact a lawyer immediately. Domestic violence outreach services or a transition house can give you information and support. IMMIGRATION AND REPORTING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Will my immigration status be affected if the police are involved? If you are a Canadian citizen born abroad or permanent resident: You can stay in Canada if your partner is arrested or if you leave the relationship. You will not be deported, even if your husband is your sponsor. If you leave him and you have no money or income, you may be able to get income assistance, which is financial support from the province.

8 If you have temporary status: You should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. If you are sponsoring your husband: You should get legal advice as soon as possible. What if my sponsor is forcing me out of Canada? If your sponsor is trying to force you out of Canada, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. What can I do if my partner is threatening to hurt my family back home? Abusers use threats to keep their partners from leaving or try scaring them into dropping charges, even though charges cannot be dropped. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer if your partner is threatening to hurt your relatives. LEAVING THE ABUSIVE SITUATION Where will I live if I leave my partner? If the police are called during or after an assault, you can ask them to take you to a transition house or women s shelter, or you can contact a transition house or shelter yourself. Transition houses and shelters give women and their children short-term safety and support in domestic violence situations. If you need safe and affordable housing, second stage housing provides housing for women and their children for six months to one year if they have left an abusive situation. You can choose to rent an apartment or stay with a family member or friend.

9 Can I take my children with me? It is best to take your children with you if you are concerned about their safety or you think that your partner will try to stop you from seeing them. You should get legal advice about your situation as soon as possible. You can apply immediately to family court for interim (temporary) custody and support orders for you and your children. You can ask the court to restrict your partner s access to your children, making it against the law for him to take the children from you. You should not try to take the children out of the province or the country as your partner could accuse you of kidnapping the children. Your lawyer will explain what you can and cannot do. COURT Will I have to go to court if I report abuse? If your partner is charged and pleads guilty, you likely will not have to go to court unless you want to. If your partner pleads not guilty, there will be a trial. You will most likely have to be a witness at the trial. If a court order tells you to come to court, called a subpoena, you have to go to court or the judge might order your arrest. If you are scared to go to court, talk to the police, the Crown Attorney, Victims Services, or a transition house about your concerns.

10 Can I withdraw the charges? No. Only the Crown Attorney can change or withdraw charges. Do I need a lawyer? You may need to talk to a family lawyer if you are trying to get an Emergency Protection Order, a Peace Bond, or a family law order for custody or support. A trusted family member or friends may be able to help you find a lawyer. You can also contact the Lawyer Referral Service for a referral to a family lawyer. If you hire a lawyer, ask the lawyer what the hourly rate is and how much he or she thinks the process will cost. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may qualify for Legal Aid. It gives free legal help for some family law cases. You can apply by calling or visiting your local Nova Scotia Legal Aid office. If you need an interpreter for meetings with your lawyer, you will be responsible for the cost if the lawyer is not a Legal Aid lawyer. You do not have to agree to have your children or a friend interpret for you. What help is available for my abusive partner? There are community programs that offer education and counselling to men who have abused their female partners. For information on a program in your area, see

11 RESOURCES In this resource section, interpreters are available ONLY where indicated, and they are NOT always available in your language. Phone 911 in a medical emergency, if your life could be in danger. Police and highly trained paramedics will respond with emergency medical care you can trust and take you to the right hospital for the care you need. Transition Houses There are shelters throughout Nova Scotia where a woman and her child can go for safety, information and support. To find a shelter in your area, contact the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia (THANS): or phone Every transition house has its own free long distance phone number. A woman can call the transition house anytime to get information, support and safety planning from a trained counselor, even if she does not want to live at the shelter. She does not have give her name. Interpretation may sometimes be available. Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program In Halifax, phone the Avalon SANE response line at , 24-hours, 7 days a week. Capital Health provides clients who have a language barrier with free access to face-toface interpretation. In Antigonish, phone the Antigonish Women s Resource Centre at SANE.

12 Senior Abuse Line Information, referrals and support to older people and to people concerned about abuse of a senior. Phone for free from anywhere in Nova Scotia: on Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. To report abuse of an adult in need of protection, phone No interpretation is available. Child Abuse Line To report child abuse, phone your local child welfare office by searching for your community at the following link: department/contact/childwelfareservices.html. Or phone for free on evenings, weekends and holidays: Immigrant Settlement & Integration Services (ISIS) ISIS works with immigrants settling in Nova Scotia. Their Crisis Intervention Services can help permanent residents who have a crisis, such as domestic violence. Free interpretation is available. Phone: HealthLink 811 HealthLink 811 is a free 24/7 province-wide service. There is no charge to call 811. Callers can receive information, advice or communitybased referrals. Bilingual nurses are available to support callers in French and English. 811 can also support callers in more than 120 languages through a third party interpretation service. FEED NOVA SCOTIA Helpline Helpline is a telephone service where trained volunteers and staff help callers work through issues including domestic violence, relationships, mental health issues, addictions, parent support, and food and housing concerns.

13 Halifax area: TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing): Free long distance in Nova Scotia: TTY (for deaf and hard of hearing): Victims Services Free interpretation is provided for victims and their families. The Provincial Victims Services Program has four offices that help victims when the police are involved. Phone for free from anywhere in Nova Scotia: Phone in Halifax: RCMP Victim Services: call Halifax Regional Police Victim Services: call If you want to call the Halifax Regional Police: to report a non-emergency in progress, phone to report crimes not in-progress, phone LEGAL HELP Interpretation is provided only where indicated. Legal Information Line and Lawyer Referral Service To get free legal information or to ask for a lawyer referral, phone or free from anywhere in Nova Scotia. Phone operates Monday to Thursday from 10:00 am - 4:30 pm. Service provided by Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia.

14 Nova Scotia Legal Aid offices: Dalhousie Legal Aid Service: Salvation Army Atlantic Refugee and Immigrant Services (ARIS) Project ARIS provides free legal representation to immigrants and refugees, including victims of domestic violence. In particular, they provide assistance completing immigration forms, with a strong focus on family reunification. Phone: Halifax Refugee Clinic Halifax Refugee Clinic offers immigration legal services and settlement services to refugee claimants and other eligible humanitarian applicants who cannot afford a private lawyer. They offer legal advice to victims of domestic violence only concerning their immigration status. Settlement workers support clients who are victims of domestic violence by liaising with other service providers. Phone , or visit their website at halifaxrefugeeclinic.org. Free interpretation can usually be provided. Emergency Protection Orders To apply, phone the Justice of the Peace Centre for free in Nova Scotia at:

15 INTERPRETING SERVICES IN NOVA SCOTIA For in-person and telephone interpreting services for a fee, look in the yellow pages under translators and interpreters. A settlement agency may also give you the names of interpreters. USEFUL WEBSITES: Nova Scotia Domestic Violence Resource Centre: Information on domestic violence and resources for victims, including second stage housing and information for abusers. Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia: Court information and family law: courts.ns.ca and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC): NOTE: If you have a legal problem, you should talk with a lawyer. This pamphlet contains general legal information. It does not provide legal advice. January 2013

16 NOTES: March 2013 Women English

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