Domestic violence isn’t limited to physical violence. But it’s not just an argument between a couple either. The law prohibits many forms of violent actions that affect the physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of the victim as well as any children exposed to the violence.
Violence between people in an intimate relationship
Domestic violence occurs between people who are or who have been in an intimate relationship. It can happen in any type of intimate relationship between people of the same or opposite sex (marriage, civil union, common-law relationship or any other intimate relationship). It doesn’t matter how long the couple has been together. Domestic violence can occur at any age and often involves an imbalance of power in the relationship. The abuser will typically use different strategies to control the victim, including insults, threats, or intimidation.
Domestic violence also includes violent actions toward the victim’s loved ones, property, or pets. Sometimes it’s directed at the victim’s new spouse.
Different types of domestic violence
Domestic violence isn’t limited to physical assault or injury. It covers a broad range of behaviours:
- Verbal violence: giving orders, yelling, humiliating or degrading the victim, etc.
- Psychological violence: social isolation, putting the other person down, breaking valuable objects, etc.
- Physical violence: hitting, burning, biting, etc.
- Sexual violence: sexual assault, harassment or intimidation for the purpose of having sexual relations, etc.
- Economic violence: control over the other person’s income and expenses, not allowing them to work, etc.
Actions that can be considered crimes
There is no specific crime called “domestic violence.” However, many acts of domestic violence are crimes. Here are some examples:
- Death threats or threats of injury
- Sexual assault
- Criminal harassment (stalking)
- Sharing intimate images
- Murder and attempted murder
- Breaking and entering
In a criminal trial, the circumstances surrounding the crime can influence a judge to give a heavier sentence. These are called “aggravating circumstances”. One example of an aggravating circumstance is committing a crime against a partner in an intimate relationship. It is an aggravating factor because it often involves an abuse of power.
Domestic violence committed by someone under the age of 18
A minor can also be found guilty of crimes committed in the context of domestic violence. The Youth Criminal Justice Act applies in this situation.