Domestic violence isn’t just physical – and the telltale signs are not always clear. Legal Aid Alberta lawyers are here to provide legal protection for victims of domestic violence in all its forms
Family violence is an unfortunate reality for many Albertans – and it happens every day. Awareness of what constitutes abuse is an important part of keeping victims and loved ones safe. But the telltale signs are not always clear, and violence is not always categorized as physical, says Legal Aid Alberta Family Lawyer Scott Thurmeier.
“The first thing people think of when you talk about family violence is physical violence – that people are being harmed physically. It’s relatively common that we see, in addition to physical violence, coercive and controlling behaviour.”
LAA staff lawyers working within the Emergency Protection Order Program reported 2,134 opened files in 2022-23 – an increase of 10 per cent over the last five years. Thurmeier, who often helps individuals seeking these protection orders, says he sees everything from financial abuse to physical and sexual threats to coercive control in the spectrum of family violence.
“Common situations we see is one person limiting someone’s access to finances by taking away their bank card, not allowing them to share a bank account, giving them a very minimal allowance for things like groceries, limiting access to a family vehicle or never having enough gas in the car to allow someone to get very far from home, and more.”
When it comes to family violence, Thurmeier also says that many of the financial abuse situations he sees involve elderly parents and their child. “There are times when we see parents in their 70s or 80s applying for an emergency protection order against their adult child, who is demanding or stealing money and/or assuming control over their parents’ bank accounts and possessions,” he said. “Elderly people are more susceptible to [financial abuse] and just based on demographics, as the population ages, we unfortunately could be seeing more cases come up.”