Domestic violence can take place at any time during, and after, a relationship. Violence may take on a different form after a separation. Behaviour that does not necessarily involve physical violence may still be criminal.
Domestic violence after separation
Violence can continue even after a break-up. Courts will still consider this behaviour to be domestic violence. An offence that is committed in the context of domestic violence is considered more serious and the sentence may thus be more severe.
Some behaviours are criminal, even if no physical violence is involved.
Surveillance and repeated communications
Maintaining contact with an ex-partner is often unavoidable, especially if you have children. However, communications made with malicious intent can be criminal.
Repeated phone calls or messages
Your ex-partner cannot repeatedly contact you with the intent to annoy or disturb you. This applies to phone calls, text messages, social media messages and more. Such behaviour can constitute the crime of harassing communications.
If a certain behaviour causes you to fear for your safety or the safety of someone close to you, criminal harassment (stalking) may be at play. In addition to repeated communications, other actions fall under the definition of criminal harassment, such as
- following you,
- watching your home or your workplace, or
- behaving in a threatening manner.
Though generally a result of repeated actions, in some cases, a single event may constitute criminal harassment.
Entering your home without permission
Does your ex-partner pester you all the way to your front door? Be aware that they cannot enter your home without your permission. Even if they used to live there with you or still have the keys to your home, entering a residence without permission could qualify as breaking and entering. This offence can take place even if no locks were picked and no windows were broken.
If your ex-partner uses threats to intimidate you, to try to keep a hold on you or simply because they do not accept your separation, these threats can be criminal.
Threats to your physical safety
Threatening someone to cause them physical harm or to damage their property could be an offence. This threat does not need to have been made in front of the victim to be an offence. For example, a threat that was passed on through a loved one is an offence.
Forcing you to do or not to do something
If your ex-partner uses threats to force you to do or not to do something, you could be in a situation of extortion. In such a case, the threat can take different forms. It does not need to be a threat to your physical safety. For example, threats to divulge personal information or intimate pictures to force you to act against your will can be extortion.
Preventing you from leaving
Your ex-partner cannot in any way impede your freedom of movement, be it through physical restraints, threats or intimidation. If you feel as if you cannot leave the room or the place where you are, you may be a victim of forcible confinement.
Many resources are available to help victims of crime. If you require support or need to talk, you can consult our list of assistance and accompaniment resources.