Legal information about Family Violence laws and resources

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Legal Help for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence 

In Canada, it is against the law to assault, threaten, or harass another person. The laws apply to everyone in Canada. The laws apply whether the people are strangers, friends or family members, whether they are married, living together or dating.  The law is also clear that parents and caregivers cannot abuse their children, or allow another person to abuse their child.

Abuse is behaviour used to intimidate, isolate, dominate or control another person. Family violence is abuse that happens at home, within a family, or in an intimate relationship. Abuse can happen in any family or relationship. It happens to individuals of all backgrounds, religions, races, cultures, ethnic origins and sexual orientations, regardless of income, occupation, or education.

Abuse is never the survivor's fault.

This page talks about family violence in an intimate relationship, when one partner abuses the other.  On this page partner means husband, wife, spouse, common-law partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, and victim or survivor means someone who has experienced family violence.

There are resources to help survivors of family violence and abusers who want to get help. They are listed under Resources below.  If you are an abuser there is supportive counselling and programs to help you learn more about what triggers these behaviours and how you can stop being abusive.

If you have been called as a witness to a Family Violence trial, you can find more information here

This page gives general legal information. It does not provide legal advice. Go here for ways to get legal advice, and see the Resources section below.

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Remember you are not alone. This is not your fault.


If you have an emergency, call 9-1-1  
If someone is hurting you or you are afraid, call 9-1-1.

Last reviewed: July 2021
Reviewed for legal accuracy by: Lawyer Shelley Hounsell-Gray, QC

Thank you to Justice Canada for funding to help update our legal information on family violence.
This publication was created with support from Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, and we gratefully acknowledge their support. 

Some content was adapted, with permission, from Community Legal Education Ontario.