Help for spouses or partners who are victims of abuse

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You don’t have to stay in an abusive relationship to keep your status in Canada.

The person who’s abusing you might tell you that

  • you’ll be deported or
  • lose your children if you leave.

Get help if someone is threatening you

  • Call 9-1-1 or your local police, in an emergency.
  • Call 1-888-242-2100 to contact the IRCC Client Support Centre for information on your citizenship or immigration status.
  • Call 2-1-1 to find community, social and health services
  • Find more services and information to deal with violence and abuse.

What is abuse or neglect

Behaviours that scare, isolate, or control another person. This may be actions or words. Abuse may be a pattern or a single incident.
Failure to provide care, which could cause serious harm. This may be not providing food, clothing, medical care or shelter, or any other behaviour that could be hurtful.

There are many types of abuse or neglect.  As a victim you may experience more than one type of abuse.

The abuser could be your spouse, former spouse, partner or former partner, other family members or friends. Sometimes, the abuser could be a member of your spouse’s or partner’s family. The abuser may be male or female.

Find out more about types of family violence and how to recognize abuse.

Types of abuse or neglect

Physical abuse is contact that intimidates or hurts, for example:

  • hitting
  • pushing
  • burning
  • pinching
  • punching
  • slapping
  • kicking
  • stabbing
  • cutting

Sexual abuse is any sexual touch or action that is done against your will. This is a crime in Canada, even if you are in a relationship with your abuser. For example, when someone:

  • touches you or acts in a sexual way without your consent
  • continues sexual activity when you asked to stop
  • forces you to commit unsafe or humiliating sexual acts

Emotional or psychological abuse might include:

  • insults or humiliation
  • intimidation
  • harassment or threats
  • name-calling or disrespecting
  • yelling
  • criticizing or blaming
  • breaking your things
  • hurting or threatening to hurt family or friends
  • hurting or threatening to hurt your pets
  • keeping you from seeing your family or friends
  • threatening to take away or hurt your children

Financial abuse is when someone limits your access to money to hurt you. For example:

  • Taking your paycheck or money without permission.
  • Withholding money, so that you can’t pay for things you or your children need, such as food, shelter or medical treatment.

Controlling behaviour that limits your freedom, such as:

  • Withholding your passport, identification or other important documents
  • Keeping you in your home and not allowing you to leave
  • Constantly questioning and monitoring your internet and phone use
  • Not allowing you to see your family and friends

Forced marriage

Forced marriage is when consent is not freely given by at least one of the parties to the marriage. Unlike arranged marriages which take place with the consent of both parties, in forced marriages, individuals are coerced to marry, usually by family members, through threats, physical violence, or emotional manipulation.

How to get help

Various organizations and agencies in Canada can offer support or helpful information. Services are confidential.

Find out how to get help if you are a victim of abuse or neglect.

  • You might feel very alone in Canada.
  • Your abuser might lie to you about your status in Canada.
  • You might find it difficult to talk to people or fear for your safety and the safety of your children.
  • You might find it hard to communicate in English or French.
  • You might be confused about your rights under Canadian law.

Getting help is not shameful. You have the right to seek help.


In Canada, abuse is not tolerated.

You don’t have to stay in an abusive situation.


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