What is Intimate Partner Violence and How Can a Family Lawyer Help?

By Kristy Hansen  |  February 13, 2023

Kristy Hansen

with the assistance of law student Hannah Smith

This is the first in a three-part series on intimate partner violence. It is intended to provide an overview of what intimate partner violence is, as well as an outline of potential resources for survivors of intimate partner violence who are also facing family law issues.

In our second blog, we will discuss how intimate partner violence intersects with both criminal law and family law in Ontario. Our firm focuses on assisting those facing family law issues, but it is possible that your situation encompasses both areas.

Finally, in the third blog, we will go into more detail about how intimate partner violence can impact children and how family law takes intimate partner violence into account when making court orders involving children.

At the outset, it is important for us to acknowledge that these articles will only provide broad overviews of each of these topics, which are expansive. There are many valuable resources available for those seeking more in-depth information.

What is Intimate Partner Violence?

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), also referred to as “domestic violence” or “family violence”, refers to any violence or abuse suffered in your home by those in your family circle. It is important to know that IPV is not limited to physical abuse. There are many different forms, including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual violence, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and financial abuse. Sometimes there is physical violence. Other, more discreet indicators of IPV may include threats, verbal harassment, controlling behavior, etc. It is common for it to take time for survivors to recognize that they are experiencing IPV.

The importance of disclosing IPV

Many survivors of IPV may feel that it is not worth sharing their experiences or taking any action against their abuser. Unfortunately, many cases of IPV go unreported for this reason, and others. As a result, IPV is often normalized. It becomes understood and accepted as a standard part of life.

Disclosing IPV can be scary and difficult. However, it is important to inform any professionals you may work with of your experiences with IPV. Advise your lawyer of any violence you are experiencing in your life, as your lawyer may be able to help connect you to supports that are available to assist you. With respect to legal proceedings, the presence of IPV may affect your lawyer’s advice or approach to your case, including taking additional steps to protect your safety and the safety of any children who may be involved.

Legal Supports are Available

Legal Aid Ontario provides two hours of free legal advice to any survivor of IPV, regardless of financial status and regardless of whether you are still living with your abuser, or if you have left the home. Click here for more information.

The Assaulted Women’s Helpline is a 24-hour phone service for women in Ontario experiencing IPV. They offer counselling, support, information, and community and legal services referrals. It is free, anonymous, and confidential. You can contact them at 1-866-863-0511 to speak to someone on an immediate basis, or click here for more information.

Local Supports are Available

Locally, for those living in the Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario region, several organizations are available to assist women and their children escape IPV.

Faye Peterson Transition House provides temporary shelter, including food, clothing and medical attention, for women and children fleeing from IPV. They also provide 24-hour counselling via telephone (807-343-0450) or text (807-700-5011). This is a safe place for survivors to make plans for next steps.

Beendigen (Anishinabe Women’s Crisis Home & Family Healing Agency) also provides temporary shelter for Indigenous women and children fleeing IPV, where programming and supports are offered. They also have a 24-hour crisis helpline (1-888-200-9997).

If your partner monitors your whereabouts, or your phone, phone records, or internet browsing history, keep this in mind when accessing resources or services. There are safe ways to do this, or you can use resources or services via public computers or phones.

Accessing legal assistance and disclosing IPV can be an essential part of escaping and healing from the IPV you are experiencing. At Henderson Family Law, we strive to provide a safe and supportive environment for survivors who seek our assistance with their family law issues. Please contact us to learn more.


This content is provided as a general informational source by Henderson Family Law, and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, or establish a lawyer-client relationship. Every situation is complex and fact-specific, and appropriate advice will vary accordingly. Do not rely on this information for legal decision-making under any circumstances. Please consult with us and obtain proper advice and strategy concerning the specifics of your particular situation.

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