3. Get legal advice
If you're the victim of a crime involving gender-based violence, it's a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your options. A lawyer can help you decide which option is best for your situation.
The Law Society Referral Service will give you the name of a lawyer in your area who can give you a free consultation for up to 30 minutes. You can ask for a lawyer who speaks your language, and one who accepts Legal Aid certificates. You can use the online service or you can call the crisis line at 1-855-947-5255 or 416-947-5255 in Toronto. This service is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
JusticeNet helps people whose income is too high to use Legal Aid but too low to afford standard legal fees. JusticeNet offers services for a fee that is based on your income.
Legal Aid Ontario provides services to people who have experienced domestic violence and need immediate help with a family law issue, like getting a restraining order. Your income doesn't matter. The service gives you 2 hours of free advice from a lawyer. For more information call 1-800-668-8258, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or contact your local community legal clinic or shelter.
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, you can also contact the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic for free legal advice. The clinic helps women and people who identify as non-binary who have experienced physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. The clinic accepts collect calls and can be reached at 416-323-9149 or 416-323-1361 (TTY). The clinic's services include:
- representing women in family and immigration court for free
- interpreter services in more than 90 languages
- legal advice
- supporting positive change in criminal law
Sexual assault cases have special rules and steps that make these prosecutions different from many other crimes involving gender-based violence. Sexual assault cases can also be very difficult and traumatic for the victim. If you're not in an emergency situation, it's a good idea to get legal advice before you go to the police about a sexual assault. A lawyer can:
- give you advice about your situation
- answer your questions about reporting a sexual assault
- explain what will happen if you go to the police
- help you plan what steps you decide to take
The Ontario government offers a program to help survivors of sexual assault get legal advice. The program gives eligible people vouchers that they can use to get up to 4 hours of free legal advice from a private lawyer by phone or video.
This service is confidential and available to people of all genders. You can apply any time after a sexual assault has occurred, even if you haven't reported it to the police. You can apply to use this service if you:
- are at least 16 years old
- live in Ontario, and
- were the victim of a sexual assault that happened in Ontario.