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What can I do if I’m self isolating with a partner who is abusive?

Question
What can I do if I’m self isolating with a partner who is abusive?

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What can I do if I’m self isolating with a partner who is abusive?
Reviewed: 
April 14, 2020
Answer

Self-isolation and social distancing can make it even harder to get help if your partner is abusing you, your children, or another family member.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, you can call the police on 911.

If you’re in an abusive situation but not in immediate danger, think about safe places in your home and in your community. For example, think about community places that are still open during the pandemic, such as police stations, fire stations, or grocery stores. Keep in touch with friends and family who can help you if there is an emergency or give emotional support.

Luke’s Place has developed safety tips for people living with their abuser. This includes things like:

  • Find or make a safe room in your house. Be aware that kitchens are unsafe because they contain knives, heavy pots and stovetops.
  • Know where every exit in your house is.
  • If possible, carry your cell phone with you at all times, tucked away so it is hard for your abuser to take it from you.
  • If you have a neighbour you trust, ask if they can leave a key to their house somewhere safe for you in case you need to get to a safe space quickly. Tell your kids they can go to this neighbour for help at any time.
  • Develop a code word with your kids and use that word when (and only when) you need them to dial 911 and/or run to a neighbour for help.

Please read the complete list of safety tips on the Luke’s Place website.

Helplines

For 24-hour a day telephone support, you can call:

You can call a helpline anonymously. This means you do not have to give your name and contact information.

Services

The Ontario Network of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centres has centres in 35 hospitals across Ontario that provide emergency care to those who have experienced partner abuse. Call 416 323-7327.

Shelters

Emergency shelters for women and children leaving abusive relationships are still open because they are essential services. But they may have restrictions on how many people they can take because of COVID-19 concerns. Find your local shelter by visiting sheltersafe.ca or 211ontario.ca or by calling 2-1-1 from anywhere in Ontario. Most shelters have staff available 24 hours a day to answer your call.

Emergency Legal Advice

Luke’s Place

Luke’s Place works with abused women across Ontario by providing legal advice, support, and referrals. They offer a Virtual Legal Clinic that connects women with lawyers for free legal advice on family law issues by video conference or phone. There is no fee and it doesn’t matter what your income is. Call 905-728-0978 or 1-866-516-3116.

Law Society of Ontario

The courts are closed except for urgent matters. An urgent matter includes situations where a person’s safety is at risk. This includes if you need to ask the court for a restraining order to keep your partner away from you.

The Law Society of Ontario has set up a temporary emergency family law referral telephone line. You can call this service if you have a family law issue and you:

  • don’t have a lawyer
  • don’t know if your issue is urgent or not
  • don’t know your next steps if your matter is urgent

If this is your situation, the referral service will help you get 30 minutes of free legal advice from a family law lawyer. Call 416-947-3310 or 1-800-268-7568.

Barbra Schlifer

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic helps women in Toronto who’ve experienced abuse. They also have free interpreter services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. And they have a Family Court Support Worker Program (FCSWP). For other services and supports, visit their website. The Clinic accepts collect calls and can be reached at 416-323-9140 or 416-323-1361 (TTY).

Legal Aid Ontario

You can get family and criminal law summary legal advice over the phone from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) at 1-800-668-8258 or, in Toronto, at 416-979-1446. Because of COVID-19, anyone can use this service to get legal advice and information at this time. It doesn’t matter what your income is. LAO’s goal is to have a lawyer respond to every family and criminal question within 48 hours or less.

With input from Luke's Place.

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