Domestic violence involves the intent by a partner, to intimidate either by the threat or by use of physical force on another person or property. The purpose of the assault is to control her behaviour by the inducement of fear. Underlying all the abuse is a power imbalance between the victim and the offender. Forms of assault include physical, sexual, psychological and/or destruction of property.

Definitions of Abuse

Terms such as “wife assault”, “spousal abuse”, “woman abuse”, and “domestic violence” have been used interchangeably to describe violence within the family unit. Although some of these terms are gender neutral, the issue is one of women being physically and /or psychologically abused by their partners. This does not negate the fact that violence in the home may also occur against other family members, however, the greatest number of incidents is against women. Abuse against any person, whether male, female, young or elderly, is intolerable and unacceptable in our society. Women and children are extremely vulnerable and the most at risk of abuse. The 2009 Stats Canada report states: “The overwhelming majority of victims of spousal violence continue to be female. In 2007, more than 8 in 10 victims of police-reported spousal violence were female.”

Employment and Social Services believes in the following principles:

  • All persons and their children have the right to live free from abuse.
  • All persons have the right to access resources and supports to ensure their physical safety, emotional health, and basic material and financial needs.
  • Breaking the cycle of violence requires a co-ordinated community response. This includes an integrated and consistent response from all service providers.
  • Participants in the community response system recognize that legislation, and other preventative measures such as education, provide a basis for ending abuse and its destructive consequences.
  • The response to abuse must not re-victimize the person and/or their children. All services must be provided in ways that facilitate a person’s ability to exercise their own choice and enable them to participate in the process.

We must continually strive towards a system that provides an abused person and their children easy access to immediate crisis intervention, to safety, to financial and emotional help. Prompt response and easy access to services reduces risks and supports their decision to leave an abusive relationship. This must be accomplished in a sensitive manner that respects the diversity of the community we serve.

Toronto Employment and Social Services will not allow victims of violence to be placed in a situation where they are forced to contact their abusive partner for information that may result in further risk to themselves or their children. Our practices reflect our commitment to assist the abused person, not only financially, but also enabling them to live in a risk-free environment.


Toronto Employment and Social Services is bound by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). Confidentiality of information gathered is always imperative, but in this type of situation confidentiality is even more critical. In order to maintain the safety of the person at risk of abuse, no information can be released without consent.


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