November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month which has us thinking about the many myths and misconceptions about domestic violence. This inspired us to create a new “MythBusters” blog series to help dispel some of these and other family law myths and misconceptions.

Myth: Domestic violence is always physical.

Busted: This is a common misconception about domestic violence. Physical abuse is just one of many forms of domestic violence. Just because you, or someone you know, have not been physically harmed does not mean that you, or a loved one, are not experiencing other forms of domestic violence.

Domestic violence, also referred to as family violence, includes ANY conduct, physical or otherwise, which is violent, threatening, or constitutes coercive and controlling behaviour or which causes that other family member to fear for their own safety or the safety of another person. This includes a whole spectrum of conduct and behaviours, many of which are not physical in nature. For example, family violence can include any of the following:

  • Harassment, such as stalking;
  • Psychological abuse, such as gaslighting, telling you you’re a bad parent, threatening that you cannot or will not see your children, isolating you from your family and friends, looking through your phone, or spreading lies about you on social media;
  • Financial abuse, such as trying to stop you from working or earning money, trying to stop you from having an personal bank account, or forcing you to account for how you spend money.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of examples. There are many other ways that family violence may present, and often individuals and families experience multiple forms of violence.

For more information about domestic violence and family law, check out our upcoming blog posts: “Expanding the Definition of ‘Family Violence'” and “What We Saw & Family Law: Maid”.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing family violence, you can call the 24-hour domestic violence information/crisis line to discuss options at 1-877-977-0007. For immediate help from the police if someone is in danger or you fear for their immediate safety, call 911. Below are some additional resources.

By Rhoni Mackenzie

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