Department of Justice

Victim Services / Family Violence Prevention Unit

Once You've Left, Then What?


 

Once You Are Safe, Transition Homes and Choices

Once you are safe, you can take some time to decide what to do next. You need the time and the space to make decisions that are best for you and your children.

At a transition home, staff can help you with this. If you don't go to a transition home, you can still call there for support. You can call their 24-hour crisis lines (call collect if you need to) or arrange a visit with them.

Kaushee's Place (Whitehorse) 668-5733
Dawson City Women's Shelter 993-5086
Help and Hope for Families (Watson Lake) 536-2711
Carmacks Safe Home 863-5918
or after hours 863-5385
Magedi Safe Home (Ross River) 969-2722

You can also call Victim Services in Whitehorse at 667-8500 during office hours and arrange for a worker to meet with you in your home or somewhere safe.

Another good resource is the Family Violence Prevention Unit (in Whitehorse) at 667-3581, or toll free 1-800-661-0408.

For First Nations support and information in Whitehorse, call the Kwanlin Dun Victim Services Program at 633-7852 or the Kwanlin Dun Community Wellness Program at 633-6149.

Watson Lake has its own Community Victim Service Coordinator: 536-2541 as does Dawson City: 993-5831. If you live in another community, contact services in Whitehorse. Workers travel to outlying areas if necessary.

One of the first things you may need to do is to find out about your legal rights, how to get child support and child custody, and what to do if you don't have any money.


 

Legal matters

Getting information

You can get some information from transition homes about RCMP procedures, the law, how the justice system works, and some legal matters. The staff at the transition home can also help you get legal advice.

You can ask them about this even if you have not stayed there.

If you want to find out more about the law, lawyers, and legal matters, call:

The Law Line (867) 668-5297 in Whitehorse or toll-free 1-867-668-5297); and/or
The Lawyer Referral Service (867) 668-4231 allows you to meet with a lawyer for half an hour for a small fee. Both services are located in Whitehorse.

In the following Yukon communities, you can ask First Nations court workers for referrals and information:

Whitehorse, Carcross, Teslin, Haines Junction, Burwash, or Beaver Creek: (867) 667-3781;
Dawson City or Old Crow: Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in Courtworker (867) 993-5385;
Watson Lake: Liard First Nation Court worker (867) 536-2131;
Ross River: Ross River Dena Council Court worker (867) 969-2279; and
Carmacks, Mayo, or Pelly Crossing: Northern Tutchone Council Court worker (867) 996-2265.

Don't sign any papers that might affect your legal rights until you talk with a lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer, you can look in the Yellow Pages under Lawyers, or call the Lawyer Referral Service in Whitehorse (668-4231).

If you can't afford a lawyer, call Legal Aid in Whitehorse (667-5210). They may provide free legal services if you can't pay and if you qualify.


 

What About Custody of Your Children?

If you have children and you want custody, you should apply for a custody order. Contact a lawyer or legal aid right away. You can get information on how to apply for a custody order from the Law Line (668-5297).

Transition home outreach workers can also provide information and will help you with the process whether you are a resident at a transition home or not.

The Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre (667-2693)
or the Women's Directorate (667-3030), both in Whitehorse, may also be able to refer you to the appropriate services.

If you are afraid your partner may try to take the children to another country, you can ask the passport office to put the children's names on a security list so that you will be called if their father tries to get a passport for them. Call the Passport Office in Ottawa toll-free at 1-800-567-6868.

You must provide ID for yourself, birth certificates for your children, court documents (such as custody orders, restraining orders, etc.), and a letter detailing why you want their names on the security list. The passport office will provide you with security for 90 days.

You can write to them at:

The Passport Office
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0G3

If your children have another nationality, contact the country's embassy or consulate to ask them to refuse to issue passports for your children. (Consulate and embassy phone numbers can be found in the government blue pages in the phone book.)


 

If the Abuse Continues After You Leave

Once you leave, his abusive behavior may continue for a while or even get worse. He may try to control you financially, through the children, through the courts, through physical abuse, or by threatening and harassing you.

If this happens, he may be breaking the conditions of his no contract order, or he could be charged with criminal harassment. Make a written record of all contacts he makes and of what he does or says. Keep any written or recorded messages he leaves for you. Keep the police, his probation officer (if he has one), and your lawyer informed about what is happening.

He may try to make you feel guilty or sorry for him. He may be very loving and generous, showering you with gifts and attention. He may try to scare you into returning. He may try to wear you down until you give up and return to him. One way to handle this is to have as little contact with him as possible.

Transition home staff, the police, his probation officer (if he has been put on probation), Victim Services, your lawyer, a counselor, or a supportive friend can support and help you get through this period. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

You don't deserve to be harassed. You deserve a better life. If you are still afraid of him or he is threatening you, you can apply for a peace bond.


 

How the Law Can Help You

Family Violence Prevention Act

The Family Violence Prevention Act is new legislation that focuses on the victim by offering three protective court orders that provide several ways in which victims can seek help.

What if the abusive person is not a member of my family?

The Family Violence Prevention Act is designed to address violent relationships between family members and intimate companions, whether you still live together or not.

Who are the designates that I can contact?

Designates are RCMP and Victim Services workers who can help you apply for an Emergency Intervention Order. To contact a designate in your community, please contact your local RCMP or Victim Services.

If you have any questions about the Family Violence Prevention Act and its orders, please call the Family Violence Prevention Unit at 667-8500 or toll free at 1-800-661-0408 ext. 8500 (all calls are confidential).


 

An Emergency Intervention Order (EIO): Immediate Help

  • An EIO is issued over the telephone by certain Justices of the Peace (JP's);
  • An EIO can allow you and your children to stay in your own home, if it is safe to do so;
  • An EIO can have the abusive person removed form your home by a police officer (designate); and
  • An EIO will prevent the abusive person from contacting you, your family or any other persons listed in the court order.

In addition to the same type of conditions available in an Emergency Intervention Order, you can apply for a Victim's Assistance Order.


 

A Victim's Assistance Order (VAO): Longer-term Help

  • A VAO can give you temporary possession of personal property;
  • A VAO can prevent the abusive person from taking or damaging your property;
  • A VAO can require the abusive person to pay you or your children for any loss of income, medical expenses, moving and legal expenses;
  • A VAO can require the abusive person to agree to the condition in the court order; and
  • A VAO can only be issued by a Territorial Court Judge and you may have to attend court.

VAO kits are available by calling the RCMP or Victim Services. If a person has been denied access to you and fears that you may be in danger they can apply to the court for a Warrant of Entry.


 

Warrant of Entry: Help From Others

  • A Warrant of Entry is issued by a JP or Territorial Court Judge; and
  • A Warrant of Entry can authorize a police officer to enter your residence, assist or remove you, and search the home for signs of violence to use as evidence.


 

Peace Bonds

A Peace Bond is an order made by a Judge or Justice of the Peace that tells a person to be of good behavior and to keep the peace. The order may include conditions the person must follow for a set time to a maximum of 12 months.

The most common condition of a Peace Bond is that the person not have any direct or indirect contact with you. Direct contact means calling you, coming to your house, going to your place of work, stopping you on the street, etc. Indirect contact means getting messages to you through another person or leaving notes for you.

You can also ask the Court to place other conditions on the person if you believe they will protect you. Examples of other conditions you might consider are:

  • no access to your residence; or
  • no access to children except through a third person, e.g. a social worker.

The Court can also order a person to pay money into the court. If the person follows the conditions, the money will be returned when the Peace Bond expires.

All Judges of the Territorial Court have the authority to grant Peace Bonds. Some Justices of the Peace also have this authority. Ask the RCMP who is dealing with your situation to find out if the Justice of the Peace in your community can issue Peace Bonds. If he or she can't issue one, you will have to wait until circuit court, or come to Whitehorse to apply for a Peace Bond.

Note: While a Peace Bond itself is not a criminal charge, it is a criminal offence to break any conditions of a Peace Bond.

To get a Peace Bond, first go to the nearest RCMP and explain why you want one. The officer will help you start the process, which will require you, as well as your abuser to appear in court at a set time. Victim Services in Whitehorse can help you with this process (667-8500, or toll free 1-800-661-0408, extension 8500).

In court, you will need details of when he hit or threatened you. You will have to convince the Judge or Justice of the Peace that you have good reason to be afraid. After the Judge or Justice of the Peace has heard both sides, the decision will be made whether to order a Peace Bond or not, and will decide what conditions are necessary to protect you.

Note: A Peace Bond cannot be extended once it expires. However, you can apply for a new Peace Bond if you feel you still need protection.


 

What if the abuser breaks the Peace Bond?

Always carry a copy of the Peace Bond. If he breaks the peace bond, phone the RCMP and tell them what's happening. The person can be charged with breaking a Peace Bond. This is a criminal offence. A person guilty of breaking a peace bond may be fined up to $2000, sent to jail for up to two years, or both.

If you choose not to report the abuser's breach of the Peace Bond, keep a written record of the incident anyway, in case you need it for future use.

An alternative to a Peace Bond is a Restraining Order. If you are involved in a fight over custody of your children or payment of support, and your spouse is annoying or harassing you or the children, you can apply for a Restraining Order.

Contact the Legal Aid Office in Whitehorse (667-5210), or a lawyer for more information about Restraining Orders.

Continue keeping a record of his abusive behavior and save things like answering machine messages from him. Make copies and keep these at home or in a safe place. Inform others (neighbours, friends, landlord, children's schools, daycare) about the Peace Bond.


 

Getting Professional Legal Advice

You may need professional legal advice if you decide not to go back to your partner right away. Lawyers can give you professional legal advice if you want to get a peace bond, custody of the children, or a divorce. Many women are scared or nervous about going to a lawyer, but you can't put it off. It is helpful to take someone with you to take notes.

Things the lawyer will need:

  • your social insurance number and date of birth;
  • marriage certificate;
  • the lease, deed, or mortgage to your house;
  • your partner's most recent pay stubs or income tax return;
  • your income tax return;
  • bank books;
  • immigration papers/passport;
  • your record of his abusive actions towards you; and
  • any court orders and notice of court applications.

Lawyers usually charge an hourly fee, but some will do a free initial consultation. Depending on the circumstances, you may be asked to pay a deposit (called a retainer). Bring a list of questions and as much information with you as you can. You may want to ask about going to court, about trials, about separation and divorce, about who has the right to the house and belongings. You should also discuss the possibility of claiming spousal and/or child support (maintenance), and whether or not you should ask for a restraining order.

Issues to discuss with the lawyer:

  • legal fees;
  • the possibility of obtaining a peace bond or a Supreme Court Civil restraining order (a restraining order prevents the abuser from harassing you, and the RCMP can arrest him if the order is registered with them);
  • custody and access to the children;
  • spousal/child support (maintenance);
  • questions the judge is likely to ask in court;
  • the implications of your leaving the territory/country, with or without the children;
  • property rights;
  • credit cards/joint bank accounts;
  • what to expect in court.


 

Know Your Rights

Half of the money in your joint bank account is yours.

Your personal belongings are yours, and so are the belongings of your children if they are with you.

Declaration of your rights!


 

What about protecting your money?

Maybe you are expecting a cheque in the mail from your employer, from Employment Insurance, Child Tax Credit, or Social Assistance. You can call those offices and ask them not to mail your cheque to your home address. Call as soon as you can.

You can get all your mail sent to a new address. The post office will re-address your mail for up to six months. It takes 5 to 10 days for the post office to start sending your mail to a new address. There is a fee for this service.

If you have your own money you may want to open your own bank account and arrange for your cheques to be deposited directly into your personal (not a joint) bank account. Then he cannot touch it.


 

Social assistance/welfare

What if you don't have any money, or you don't have enough?

If you leave your home, and don't have enough money, you may be able to get Social Assistance. You may be embarrassed to apply for social assistance. But that's what these agencies are for. They are meant to help people through difficult times. You can think of it as just a temporary situation, as a way to get out of an abusive relationship. You can also think of it as a way to take more control over your life.

To apply for social assistance, you can phone, write, or visit your local Health and Social Services office and ask for an application form. In Whitehorse the office is located at 307 Black Street (call 667-5674).

When you apply for financial assistance you will be expected to:

  • Explain why you are applying.
  • Give your name and address (you cannot apply as a single parent/single person if you and your partner are still living at the same address).
  • Provide identification for yourself and your children (such as birth certificate, Yukon health card, social in-surance card, passport, First Nations status card, etc.).
  • Provide information about any income or other money you receive (such as pay cheque stubs, bank statements).
  • Show what your shelter expenses are, such as lease, mortgage, power, fuel, bills. (Note: If the mortgage is in both names, your partner may be required to pay for half.)
  • Usually, you are told right away if you qualify for social assistance, and how much you will qualify for. If you qualify, it can take up to seven days to receive a cheque. Apply as soon as you can. You may be able to get some financial help right away for emergencies like housing or food.

If you are eligible for social assistance, you and your worker will do a monthly budget based on current social assistance rates for food, shelter, clothing, and some miscellaneous items. Any money you get each month from other sources will be deducted from this budget. What remains (called your 'budget deficit') is the amount of money you will receive from social assistance. Rates vary, but in general it's not a lot of money.

Applying for assistance can be a frustrating process, but help is available in finding your way through the system. It is also important to know that you can appeal any social assistance decision. Information is available from your local Social Assistance office.


 

Financial Assistance for Yukon First Nations

If you are a member of a Yukon First Nation, you must go to their office in your community to apply for social assistance. If you are living in Whitehorse, but do not belong to a First Nation in that area, contact the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, Room 122 in the Elijah Smith Building. You can call 667-3100.


 

Maintenance and Child Support

If you have your children with you, you are entitled to receive child support/maintenance from their father. Transition home staff can provide you with information and may be able to help you do this.

Note: Social Assistance Policy requires that you contact the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) and register as soon as possible. Call 667-8231.

In situations where abuse has been involved, you should first contact Legal Aid in Whitehorse (667-5210) to see if you are eligible for legal aid assistance in making an application for maintenance.

In the event that you are not eligible, you should then contact a lawyer or call the Law Line (668-5297) to get the information you will need to make the application to the Court on your own.

There are certain formats, documents, etc., that have to be used according to the Rules of Court.

If you are receiving social assistance, your social worker will have you complete an information sheet regarding your partner which will be sent to the Legal Services Branch of the Department of Justice.

If you are eligible, the Court will work out the amount of support to be paid. A Maintenance Order which is granted by the Court is not automatically registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). You must complete a registration form. These forms are available in most legal service offices. When the form has been filled out, call the MEP office in Whitehorse (667-8231) to arrange an appointment with an MEP Officer to swear an Affidavit of Arrears (if required). The Officer will explain to you how the program works. At this time you should inform the Officer of the abuse history of the children's father.

The role of the Maintenance Enforcement Program is to collect any maintenance owing, either ongoing or past due. The MEP will do everything legally possible to collect the maintenance that is ordered by the Court, but it cannot guarantee collection of any money, nor can it guarantee when the payments will be made.

If the abuser threatens you or tells you to withdraw from the program, let Maintenance Enforcement know. They will work with you to keep your income intact.

Federal Child Support Guidelines came into effect under the Divorce Act on May 1, 1997. If you got a divorce after this date the Court will use these guidelines to calculate child support (maintenance). If you were divorced before May 1, 1997, the guidelines will be used to calculate child support if you apply for a change in your maintenance order (also called a variance).

The way child support payments are taxed was also changed under the Divorce Act. The parent who receives child support payments will no longer pay tax on the payments, and the parent who pays child support will not be able to claim the money as a tax deduction. At present, these guidelines apply only to child maintenance orders made under the Divorce Act.

For further information on how all of these changes might affect you call the Law Line at 668-5297.


 

Finding a Place to Live

Where can you go after the transition house, the motel, or your friend's house?

You may be able to get low-cost housing. For help with finding rental housing, call:

Whitehorse Housing 667-5712
Grey Mountain Housing (for First Nations) 633-4880
Yukon Housing has offices in the following communities:
Carcross 821-4281
Carmacks 863-6411
Dawson City 993-5478
Faro 994-3113
Haines Junction 634-2202
Mayo 996-2358
Pelly Crossing (Mayo) 996-2358
Ross River 969-2347
Teslin 390-2024
Watson Lake 536-7304

If you need help with purchasing or upgrading your present home, call Yukon Housing in Whitehorse (667-5759).

Kaushee's Place in Whitehorse has what is called 'second-stage housing', which is safe and affordable housing for abused women and their children. Usually you can stay for up to six months.


 

Information About Renting

If you need to find a place to rent, the newspaper is a good place to start looking. Check the classified ads. That may help you get ideas of what to look for and how much rent may cost.

According to the law you cannot be refused an apartment or a house because you have children. You can be refused if you have pets.

When you find an apartment or a house to rent, you may need to pay for the first and last month's rent. Social assistance will grant the first month's and at least part of the last month's rent, depending on the amount.

Note: In the Yukon, it is illegal under the Landlords and Tenants Act for landlords to charge a "damage deposit" fee.

You may also have to sign a lease. A lease is a form which confirms that you are renting the place. It says how long you are renting for, and how much you pay each month. Make sure you understand your lease before you sign it. Make sure you get a copy.


 

What are your housing requirements?

When you call about an ad for housing, ask about the safety of the building; the cost, whether heat and light are included, the deposit required; the amount of space, and the location and distance to schools.

Ask yourself these questions before you begin hunting for a place to live:

  • Safety
    • What do you need to be safe from your abuser?
    • Do you need to be on the third floor or higher?
    • Do you need a secure building with a locked entrance and intercom?
  • Cost
    • How much can you pay for rent?
    • How much can you pay for heat and lights?
    • Social assistance and family benefits only provide a certain amount for living expenses. Find out how much that is
  • Space
    • How many bedrooms do you need?
    • How much space do you need?
  • Location
    • How close do you need to be to work?
    • Do you need to be close to schools?
  • Other options
    • Do you want to live alone, or share an apartment?
    • If you have children, would you like to share accommodation with another mother?


 

Support/Counseling for You and Your Children

You have been through a lot. You may have made a lot of changes in a short time. You may have a lot more changes to make. All of this can be very stressful for you and your children.

Maybe you feel afraid or confused. Perhaps you feel hurt, guilty, worried, or angry. You may feel grief, loneliness, relief, or carry the feeling that you have let people down. Whatever you are feeling, you might want to talk about it with a professional counselor. Counselors are trained to help sort things out. They are there to listen.

The Family Violence Prevention Unit and Victim Services in Whitehorse (667-3581 or 1-800-661-0408, extension 3581) offer free, confidential groups with no waiting list.

Some other agencies also offer free counseling, or have a sliding fee scale. It may take a while to get in to see someone. While you are waiting to see someone at an agency, you can get further support at a transition home.

The staff at transition homes are particularly used to dealing with women and children who have been in abusive situations. Staff there may be able to help you find a suitable counselor. If you are not happy with the first counselor you go to, try someone else.

Here is a list of other (Whitehorse) agencies you can try for counseling and/or information:

Yukon Family Services Association 667-2970
This agency has a community outreach program for counseling (collect calls accepted)
Child Abuse Treatment Services in Whitehorse 667-8227
This agency is especially geared toward helping children deal with trauma and/or abuse
Family and Children's Services in Whitehorse 667-3002
YTG Employee Assistance Program(for YTG employees) 668-3277
Mental Health Services 667-8346
Alcohol and Drug Services 667-5777
Skookum Jim Friendship Centre 633-7680
Kwanlin Dun Community Wellness Program 633-6149
Victim Services, Kwanlin Dun Justice Program 633-7852
Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre 667-2693
Other agencies that can provide support are:
Les EssentiELLES in Whitehorse 668-2663
The Women's Directorate in Whitehorse (for referrals or library resources) 667-3030 or toll free
1-800-661-0408,extension 3030

In most Yukon communities you can call the Health and Social Services office, or the local Community Health Centre for support. There are also many private counseling agencies, although the fees are usually higher.

You may be feeling that you aren't strong enough to handle things yourself. Remember, you don't have to prove anything. You have survived things that many other people might not have. And you've taken some really hard steps to make things better.

It takes courage to see when it's time to reach out to get help. You do deserve to be happy and you need to take care of yourself. You need to be able to count on yourself for the next while.

Children may need to know it's still okay to love or miss their father. But they also need to understand that his abusive behaviour is not acceptable. They need to know that you are all right even if you cry and get upset. Children need to know the truth about what is happening.

Your children may need to blame someone. They may see you as the one to blame, because you are the one who left. Perhaps they often saw your abuser blame you for things, so they do the same. But remember, your children may show their anger and fear to you because they trust you.

If your children blame you, that may be really hard for you. But try to be patient with them. Try to help them see why you are doing what you are doing. It may help to let them know you are afraid, too.

Remember, getting counseling for your children does not mean you have failed in any way. Your children have been through a lot. It's only normal that they might need some help.

If you want to access specialized counseling and programs for your children, call Child Abuse Treatment Services in Whitehorse (667-8227).


 

Before You Consider Going Back

At some point, you may think about going back. If so, you may want to talk it over with someone first. Perhaps you should try to get some personal counseling.

Many women who have experienced abuse benefit from getting some help to change any unhealthy behaviours and/or attitudes that may be a barrier to their wellbeing. Also, keep in mind that when men start to develop healthier attitudes, the family needs to know how to deal with these changes and develop the same kind of skills. It can be very helpful to read some literature or pamphlets on abuse.

The Women's Program at the Family Violence Prevention Unit can provide you with information to help you. Self-help resources are also available at many public service agencies in Whitehorse including Yukon Family Services Association, the Women's Directorate, Alcohol and Drug Services, Kaushee's Place, and the Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre.

If you do not live in Whitehorse, the service agencies in your community may have resource libraries where you can borrow books.

Before you decide whether or not to return, take a moment to ask yourself what you need from a healthy relationship. If he's been getting some help to change his behaviour, don't return until you see changes have occurred.


 

Can Programs for Abusive Men Help

Sometimes the court will require an abusive man to enter a program to help him change his behaviour.

In the Yukon there is a Spousal Assault Program at the Family Violence Prevention Unit (Whitehorse). Some men benefit from these programs; some do not. If counseling helps, it is only because he wants to change.

First he has to admit he has a problem. Then he has to want to work on changing his behaviour. How he changes, and how much he changes, may depend on his reasons for getting help.

With counseling he may stop being abusive. Or he may just change the way he is abusive. Some men stop the physical violence, but get more emotionally or verbally abusive. Love is about trust and respect. Abusers often get jealous for no reason. People can choose non-abusive ways to react.

There is no guarantee or quick fix. It is important that his counseling focuses on his abusive behaviour and on him taking responsibility to change. He may quit the program or stop the counseling if you move back with him, or if it's no longer required by the court. He may tell you what he thinks you want to hear.

You are the best judge of what is right for you. You should not feel pressured to give him any guarantees. Only you can decide if the abuse has stopped.


 

Is mediation a good idea?

There is a strong movement across Canada to keep family matters outside of court. It is extremely important to stress that mediation is based on equality. When there is abuse in the relationship, there is unlikely to be equality. Mediation may work for some couples; however, it is not the answer for everyone.

Where there has been violence during your relation-ship, mediation may not work. If fear of violence prevents you from discussing your needs openly and honestly, mediation will not be helpful to you.

Where a power imbalance between a couple cannot be properly managed by an experienced mediator, the courts may be a better choice for providing protection for a person who has been a victim of violence. The issue of violence itself cannot be mediated.

Mediation is not worthwhile if your partner is not motivated enough to make it work.

If you do decide to choose mediation, make sure in advance that the mediator has a good understanding of issues related to women who are abused, and about power and control.

When choosing a mediator, look for someone whose skills and training work well for your situation. Ask for references and speak to others who have used that individual's or organization's services.


 

Whatever you decide to do, please remember this

  • No one has the right to hit you.
  • No one has the right to hurt you in any way, or to make you live in fear.
  • You do not deserve to be abused.
  • You have a right to feel safe in a relationship.
  • You have a right to be treated with respect.
  • Whatever you decide to do, your own safety and your children's safety should come first.

Remember - you are not alone.

There are people who care.

There are people who can help.

There are places you can go.

There are ways to get money and jobs.

Remember, you can make changes and there are people who are willing to help.

Only you have the power to decide.