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. If you’re a permanent resident, you have rights and freedoms in Canada.

There used to be a condition on some sponsored spouses or partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Under that condition, you had to live with your sponsor to keep permanent resident status. That condition no longer exists, and your status no longer depends on you living with your sponsor.

If you have temporary status in Canada, you also have options.

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 our Client Support Centre for information on your citizenship or immigration status.
    • Choose the option for victims of abuse and forced marriage to speak directly to an agent.
    • They will tell you about your options. This includes a fee-exempt permit created for victims of family violence who need to escape their abusive spouse or partner.
  • Call 2-1-1 to find community, social and health services.
  • Find more services and information to deal with violence and abuse.
  • If you are a woman escaping violence, find a women’s shelter.
  • If you are a young person who needs support, you can talk to counsellors without giving your name at Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or visit their website.
You can also get this information in other languages:

How to get help

We have organizations that can offer you support or helpful information. Services are confidential.

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

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

If you are facing family violence and are afraid of losing your immigration status in Canada by leaving your abusive spouse or partner, you have options:

What is abuse or neglect

Abuse is behaviour that scares, isolates, or controls another person. This may be actions or words. Abuse may be a pattern or a single incident.
Neglect is the failure to provide care, which can 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 1 type of abuse.

The abuser could be your spouse, former spouse, partner or former partner, another family member or friend. The abuser could also 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

Sexual abuse is any sexual touching 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

Emotional or psychological abuse might include

Financial abuse is when someone limits your access to money to hurt you, for example

Controlling behaviour that limits your freedom, such as

Neglect is when a family member who has a duty to care for you fails to provide you with your basic needs. This can involve

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.


Other Government of Canada links
Provincial and territorial resources


British Columbia


New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Northwest Territories

Nova Scotia



If you are in Ontario and experiencing domestic violence, you can have a free consultation with a private lawyer by calling 1-800-668-8258.

Prince Edward Island




Other resources

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