Family violence is any form of abuse or neglect that a child or adult experiences from a family member, or from someone with whom they have an intimate relationship. It is an abuse of power by one person to hurt and control someone who trusts and depends on them.
All family violence is wrong. Some of it is against the law.
Many terms with similar meanings
The different terms used for family violence can have slightly different meanings depending on where and how they are used, such as in a courtroom or a hospital. For example, domestic violence can sometimes mean family violence and sometimes it means intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence refers to physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse and can also be called dating violence between couples who are not married. The terms violence against women and gender-based violence are also used. Child abuse is sometimes called child maltreatment or neglect, and elder abuse is sometimes referred to as neglect.
Family violence affects Canadians in all types of families and relationships-no matter how old they are, where they live, or how much money, education or type of job they have. It can affect people of every race, religion and sexual orientation.
Violence can happen between anyone in a family or in a close intimate relationship (e.g., boyfriend, girlfriend or fiancée), including children, parents, grandparents, siblings, intimate partners and extended family—like uncles or step-parents. It can happen in opposite sex and same-sex couples.
Examples of family violence:
Some common forms of family violence include:
Physical abuse—physical injury or death of a family member or intimate partner caused when someone:
Sexual abuse—forced sexual activity on a family member or intimate partner, when someone:
Sexual abuse can also happen in intimate partner relationships. Even if you are married or engaged, your partner cannot force you to have sex.
Children under the age of 16 cannot give informed consent, so any sexual contact between an adult and a child is a crime. Children under the age of 18 cannot legally give consent to sexual activity that exploits them. Find more details.
Emotional or psycho-social abuse—words or actions to control or frighten a family member or intimate partner, or destroy their self-respect, when someone:
Financial abuse—control, or misuse of a family member's or intimate partner's money or property, when someone:
Neglect—not meeting the basic needs to provide care for a dependent family member or intimate partner, when someone: