E. The Victim’s Response to Spousal Abuse

Author:Julien D. Payne - Marilyn A. Payne

Page 111

Abused spouses must develop a plan of action to accommodate their basic needs for the following:

· safety;

· medical assistance;

· housing;

· financial assistance;

· legal assistance; and

· emotional support.

The minimum amount of information needed by an abused spouse involves awareness of the wide variety of support services available in the community. As a starting point, an abused spouse should have the local and emergency telephone numbers for the following:

· the police;

· the hospital;

· women’s shelters;

· general welfare assistance;

· legal aid services;

· family service agencies; and

· community hotlines.

Police are on call twenty-four hours every day to provide emergency intervention for any person whose personal safety is threatened, but police cannot be at a home all day and every day in order to guarantee protection. As stated previously, there are legal means whereby an abuser may be ordered by a court to leave the victim alone. A recognizance or peace bond can be obtained under the Criminal Code of Canada. An order can also be obtained in civil proceedings whereby the abuser is ordered to refrain from molesting or harassing the victim or her children. An order for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home may also be obtainable in civil proceedings. These orders provide some measure of protection to an abused spouse. If they are unlikely to be respected by the abuser, however, the victim must have a fall-back position. Safety must be the paramount concern. Where can an abused spouse go to ensure her safety? Relatives or friends may be available to provide or find a safe place for her. She should also contact a women’s shelter. The advantage of this last course of action is that she will then be provided with information concerning other agencies and services that may accommodate her longer-term needs.

Page 112

An abused spouse should be ready to leave home at any time when she foresees that violence will erupt. She should keep clothes handy for herself and the children so as to be prepared for a quick departure. She should remember to take any necessary documents with her, such as her marriage certificate, birth certificates for herself and the children, passports, medical insurance cards, social insurance cards, and court orders. Keys, a telephone list, and a favourite toy for each child should not be forgotten. If she leaves home and needs...

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