How can I feel safe if the perpetrator is still at large or out on bail?

You may want someone to come to sleep at your home for the initial period of the investigation or you may choose to stay elsewhere. You may go through a sort of ritual every evening checking that the windows and doors are locked, that no one is in the yard, that your children are all in their beds. You may sleep with all the lights on and the TV or radio on. You can check with the police to see if they can offer any reassurance about your safety.

You may also be able to apply for a restraining order (if your partner or spouse is involved) or a peace bond (if it is another individual) if there is enough evidence or reason to suggest that this individual is a threat to you and/or your family. 

When to apply for a restraining order.

If your partner or spouse is involved, there are measures you can access if you have continuing fears about your safety or the safety of your children. 

If your partner or spouse has a history of violent behaviour and if the possibility of future violence exists, you may apply to the court for orders of protection (sometimes called a “restraining order”) stating that your partner or spouse must not molest, annoy or harass you or any child in your care and that your partner or spouse must not enter your home or workplace.

If you want to apply to court for a prevention order that would further protect you as you deal with domestic violence or stalking, a family lawyer could help you with this process.

There may be a women’s advocacy program in your area which could provide you with information and literature. If you have concerns about your safety, contact a women’s advocacy program or the police about creating a safety plan.

When to apply for a peace bond.

If you have reasonable fear that an individual will cause personal injury to you, your spouse, your child or your property, you may request that a peace bond (also called a judicial recognizance order) be issued against the individual. This procedure may take longer and require the services of a lawyer.

There will be a hearing with a justice of the peace or a judge. If the case is made beyond a reasonable doubt, a peace bond will be issued. This peace bond can be in effect for up to 12 months. The person promises to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour.” Conditions may be imposed that prohibit or restrict contact with you. Other conditions may be imposed; the person may have to surrender all firearms and/or be prohibited from possessing firearms. Breaking these conditions is an offense and the maximum penalty is two years less a day in prison.

You should be aware that many women’s groups are dissatisfied with the success rate of the measures mentioned above and they encourage abused women to do additional safety planning.

Mennonite Central Committee Canada. (2011). Getting through the maze: A guidebook for survivors of homicide.

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