Are you or someone you know experiencing intimate partner violence? If so, we encourage you to contact the Halton Regional Police Service Child Abuse & Sexual Assault Unit at 905-825-4777. Please review the following community support services and safety tips to help you stay safe.

Community supports and resources

You are not alone. Victims of intimate partner violence or sexual assault and witnesses are encouraged to contact the Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS). The following is a list of valuable support services and resources in Halton region for victims of intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence:

What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence, also known as domestic violence, includes the use or threat of physical or sexual force, including emotional or psychological abuse, or harassing/threatening behaviour directed between partners with whom there is (or has been) an intimate relationship.

With intimate partner violence, the offence can range in severity from a slap to a homicide. These crimes are often part of a pattern of assaultive and or controlling behaviour, such as financial control and social isolation. Threats can often include harming other family members, pets, and property. The violence is used to intimidate, humiliate, or frighten the victims and make them feel powerless.

What happens if I contact the police?

If you contact the police about intimate partner violence, the responding officers will conduct a thorough investigation and a report will be submitted:

  • if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has occurred, the suspect will be arrested and a charge or charges may be laid
  • if the suspect is not present, attempts will be made to locate and arrest the accused
  • if the accused cannot be found, an arrest warrant will be obtained

We will contact you once the suspect has been arrested. Police may become involved the one of the following ways:

  • if you or someone else call 9-1-1 to report the incident
  • you report it to the police by telephone or in person
  • a witness to an event contacts the police

Who lays charges related to Intimate Partner Violence?

The HRPS will lay charges in all incidents of intimate partner violence where reasonable grounds exist to do so. Reasonable grounds can be established through witness statements, the existence of physical injuries, and/or other physical evidence such as damaged or broken furniture or other signs of a disturbance.

What happens when police lay charges?

Once the police charge someone for intimate partner violence, learn what to expect for the victim and the accused.

Victim

The victim will be referred to the Halton Regional Police Service Victim Services Unit. Our staff will work with you to establish a safety plan.

We will also:

  • connect you to appropriate support services in the community;
  • assists with victim care;
  • work with the Victim Quick Response Program (VQRP+) to provide immediate short-term financial support;
  • When necessary, enroll the victim in the Mobile Tracking System, a short-term program where a GPS tracking device acts as a personal alarm.

Accused

Following an arrest, the accused may face a number of different possibilities:

  • they may be released on a form called an Undertaking or Recognizance (the victim will be notified)
  • they may be held by the police for bail
  • the court may decide to hold the accused in custody until the trial

When a charge has been laid, the case will be prosecuted by a lawyer from the Crown Attorney's office at no cost to the victim. Once a charge has been laid, neither the police nor the victim can withdraw the charge.

If an accused is released on an undertaking, they must obey these conditions while awaiting trial:

  • no contact with the victim.
  • not to attend the residence of the victim even if the residence is the matrimonial home or shared residence.

Safety tips

Here are some tips you can use to help protect yourself if you're experiencing intimate partner violence.

At home

If you experience intimate partner violence at home, you can:

  • if possible, leave the home or call police before the violence starts.
  • if possible, keep a charged cell phone with you at all times. Be aware that even if you have no minutes on a minute plan, your cell phone will work to call 9-1-1.
  • if you need to leave your home or workplace, know the best escape routes and practice your emergency exit plans. Teach any children the escape route as well.
  • plan where you can go if you need to leave. These places should be safe locations.
  • if possible, make a safe area in your home that you and children can go to when you feel threatened and cannot leave. Avoid kitchens, bathrooms, the garage, and other rooms that contain anything that can be used as a weapon. Don't use a room without outside access.
  • if possible, change all the locks on the home and install an alarm system and good lighting such as motion detectors.
  • keep your purse and wallet nearby if you need to leave.
  • keep spare keys to your car and home with you or in a safe place.
  • keep a small bag of clothes packed and hidden.

You can also keep copies of important documents in a safe place, preferably with a friend or family member outside of your home. These documents include:

  • birth certificates
  • passports
  • driver's licence(s)
  • insurance information
  • bank information
  • mortgage or lease papers
  • immigration documents
  • health records
  • school records
  • other court documents

At work

If you experience intimate partner violence, you may want to follow these tips:

  • make your employer and co-workers aware of your situation and ask them to call police if they see your partner around your workplace. Give them a photo of your partner if you have one.
  • direct your employer and co-workers not to give out your contact information to anyone and not to give out your work schedule.
  • arrange for someone at work to walk with you to your car or walk with you from the building when leaving work.

While driving or on transit

If a problem arises while you are driving, you can:

  • use your cell phone to call police
  • honk your horn or flash your lights
  • drive to a police station that you know is open or to a heavily-populated public place such as a well-lit coffee shop.

If you use public transportation, you can:

  • sit close to the driver
  • have a friend walk you home or meet you and walk you home together.

Always let friends and relatives know where you are at all times. Also let them know the times you are expected home (and be home at those times) so that they can contact the police in the event you are missing. Tell friends, neighbours, and family about the intimate partner violence and create a code word or signal with them to let them know that you need help so that they can call the police for you.

With children

If your experience intimate partner violence and you have children, you can:

  • ensure that your children's schools or daycare provider has a copy of all orders, including all restraining orders, custody, and access orders as well as a photo of the accused party.
  • decide on a code word for your children to let them know to go and get help. Let them know where to go and how to use the phone to place a 9-1-1 call to police. Rehearse with them what to do and say.

Intimate partner violence brochures

The Intimate Partner Violence Unit has developed the following brochures with helpful information for those experiencing intimate partner violence. These brochures are available in in a variety of different languages:

The HRPS Intimate Partner Violence Unit

All incidents of intimate partner violence are monitored by the Halton Regional Police Service Intimate Partner Violence Unit (IPVU). We are responsible for:

  • investigating all confirmed cases of intimate partner violence, laying the appropriate charges, and assisting the Crown Attorney in the prosecution of those charges;
  • assisting the victims of intimate partner violence and assessing safety concerns;
  • monitoring high-risk intimate partner violence cases and representing the HRPS on the Halton Assessment and Risk Reduction Team;
  • overseeing, reviewing, and monitoring the Halton Regional Police Service's response to intimate partner violence and the related policies and procedures; and
  • coordinating training programs associated with intimate partner violence awareness.