Frequently Asked Questions
Choose a category to quickly find the answer to your question.
It is not always straightforward to recognize conjugal violence in an intimate relationship.
Conjugal violence is a means purposely chosen by your partner to take and maintain control over you. It can take different forms.
A couple’s dispute can occur when you disagree with your partner on a given subject. During a couple’s dispute:
- You are equal to your partner.
- No strategy is put in place—you discuss the disagreement only.
- You can freely express your opinions without fear.
- Your partner doesn’t want to take control over you.
- You and/or your partner can apologize.
In a conjugal violence situation, your partner uses violent behaviour to exert their control over you.
- Your partner does not consider that you are equals.
- You’re afraid of his reactions.
- You have to constantly pay attention to your words and actions.
- You cannot speak freely without fearing reprisals.
- Despite all your efforts, the situation becomes explosive.
- You’re put down, you feel shame, your self-confidence and self-esteem are affected.
- Your partner always finds excuses to justify their behaviour.
Conjugal violence can have many consequences. It can have impacts on you, your children and society in general.
Yes. In Quebec, even though conjugal violence mostly affects women (78%), there are also men who are victims of conjugal violence (22%).
- In an emergency, the first thing you should do is to call 911.
In Canada, conjugal violence is illegal: you have the right to live in a violence-free environment. One duty of law enforcement is to ensure that this right is respected. They will not find fault with you.
- You can also take shelter in a safe place, such as the home of a friend or family member.
Bring your children, and, if possible, take your important papers with you: birth certificate, passport, social security card, lease, marriage certificate, bank account numbers, bank card, etc.
In Quebec, there are many services that can help you protect yourself and support you in the event of conjugal violence. Don’t hesitate to contact them.
- SOS violence conjugale offers a helpline and counselling services. The victim advocates there can point you to resources that meet your needs.
- Maison Secours aux Femmes offers shelter and support services.
These services are anonymous, free and available at any time.
Leaving a violent partner is not an easy process and requires a lot of courage. The victim advocates at Maison Secours aux Femmes can help you protect yourself and support you to get through this situation.
Yes, you can apply to terminate your lease if your safety or that of your children is threatened due to conjugal violence, sexual violence and/or violence against your children.
To quickly find a women’s shelter near you, contact the victim advocates at SOS violence conjugale at 1 800-363-9010.
The purpose of a protection order is to order your partner or ex-partner to stop harming, harassing and/or threatening you. It can require him to:
- Stay away from you, your home, school or place of work.
- Leave the residence where you live together.
- Attend a conjugal violence therapy, child-rearing or detox program.
- Make temporary custody, visiting rights and support arrangements.
To find out more, don’t hesitate to speak to a lawyer.
Your partner can see what you do on your computer. For example, he can access your email inbox or look at the history of the websites you have visited.
To prevent this from happening, we recommend that you use a “safe” computer that your partner cannot access (at a public library, a community centre, at the home of a friend or family member, etc.) and delete any traces of certain websites that you visit.
Maison Secours aux Femmes is a Montreal-based shelter where women who are victims of conjugal violence and their children can live temporarily.
Our victim advocates help them break the cycle of violence and regain control over their lives. They listen to them and provide them with information, support and guidance as they deal with different administrative and legal procedures.
Yes, the advocates at Maison Secours aux Femmes are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
Yes, our support and shelter services are completely free for all women who are victims of conjugal violence, regardless of their country of origin, age or social status.
Yes, Maison Secours aux Femmes can also host the children of women who are victims of conjugal violence. A mother-child and teen advocate and an educator are on site to help.
You may encounter many types of obstacles in your efforts to get out of a conjugal violence situation. Some are common to all women who are victims of conjugal violence:
- Trouble talking about your experience of violence and finding resources
- Shame, guilt, fear of the unknown
- Fear of facing the consequences of separation
- Fear of reprisal by your partner and/or of losing your children
- Physical, psychological and/or moral exhaustion
- Professional downgrading
- Impoverishment and increased economic dependence on your partner
- Breakdown of your social relationships, isolation
- Lack of awareness of your rights and of the resources available to help you
- Fear of the reprisals of filing a complaint
- Distrust of public authorities
- Fear of the impacts it will have on your partner
- Fear that others will not understand and will judge you
Other obstacles are more specific to your personal or cultural situation:
- Lack of knowledge of the languages spoken in Quebec
- Fear of having to return to your home country
- Taboos, cultural or religious barriers
- Traditional concept of family
- Fear of being rejected by your community of origin
The victim advocates at Maison Secours aux Femmes can help you deal with all these challenges. Don’t hesitate to contact them.
If you’re having trouble with English or French, you can also ask for a legal interpreter to translate court hearings.
Women who are immigrants or members of ethnocultural communities share the same needs as most women who are victims of conjugal violence: they need protection, housing and information. However, their situation is sometimes more vulnerable and requires special attention and support, including:
- To be welcomed with an open mind and respect.
- To feel secure and rebuild their self-esteem.
- To be respected, listened to, understood and reassured.
- To know their rights, especially concerning immigration matters.
- To receive material and psychological support.
If you’re a victim of conjugal violence and have a valid immigration status, you can file a complaint with the police, without compromising your immigration status.
If you are sponsored by your partner, you can separate without being afraid of losing your status, provided that your sponsorship application has been accepted.
- You do not have to live at the same residence as your partner.
- You do not have to prove that you are a victim of conjugal violence to leave your partner.
- You will not lose your permanent resident status if you leave your partner.
- You do not have to support yourself if you leave your partner. Your partner or ex-partner who sponsors you must continue to do so during the 3-year undertaking period.
If you accompany your partner who is a temporary worker or student in Canada, you also have temporary residence status for a fixed amount of time.
If you leave your partner during this period, you cannot renew your status. You may therefore lose your right to stay in Canada.
You can regularize your status in other ways. For example, you could apply for a temporary resident permit for a period of at least 6 months if you meet certain criteria.
You can get a divorce in Quebec even if you were married abroad.
Don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer to get more information and support in your immigration status procedures.
If you believe that a friend or family member is a victim of conjugal violence, you can:
- Bring up the subject with understanding, without blaming her, taking into consideration that it might be hard for her to talk about the violence she has experienced.
- Allow her to talk about her relationship and share her emotions.
- Determine whether she is a victim of conjugal violence by gradually bringing up the concept of violence.
- Ask her about her interpretation of the violence she has experienced.
The most important thing is to build a relation of trust between the two of you.
Here are some tips to help a woman who you know is experiencing conjugal violence:
- Listen to her and offer her your support; keep her from isolating herself.
- Prevent isolation by not being judgmental.
- Let her make her own decisions without telling her what to do.
- Remain available while respecting her personal boundaries, needs and her own pace.
- Remind her that violence is unacceptable, that she doesn’t deserve to be subjected to it and that her partner alone is responsible for his actions.
- Avoid saying negative things about her partner; instead, denounce his violent behaviour.
- Give her information on local resources and encourage her to get help.
- Urge her to file a complaint if she is the victim of criminal offences.
If you fear for your safety, don’t hesitate to call the police at 911
or SOS violence conjugale at 514-873-9010 or 1 800-363-9010.
These services are always available.