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Partner Spotlight: Nancy Komsa

Spotlight…Talk to the Crown.

Nancy Komsa, the Domestic Violence Crown Attorney in Oxford County and member of the Domestic Assault Resource Team was asked to provide some information about how the courts frame violence in a relationship.

What is Intimate Partner Violence and how is it a chargeable offence?

Intimate partner (or domestic) violence involves the use of physical, psychological or sexual force, actual or threatened as well as criminal harassment, in an intimate relationship.

An “intimate partner” includes both current and former spouses, common-law partners and dating partners. Victims of intimate partner violence may also be under considerable pressure because of financial considerations, the need for child care, disapproval of family members, immigration consequences, or fear of being ostracized by their community. In many cases, victims of intimate partner violence feel an emotional bond to the perpetrator.

What are Intimate Partner offences?

Intimate partner offences are often committed in an environment where there is a pattern of assaultive and /or controlling behavior. A victim of intimate partner violence may fear for her personal safety or for the safety of her children or other family members. Violence may go beyond a physical assault and may include emotional, psychological and sexual abuse that is intended to induce fear, humiliation and powerlessness. Intimate partner violence is not a private matter but a serious criminal act.

Many young persons who are dating can fall victim to intimate partner violence. It can take many forms such as isolating the partner from friends and family members, controlling who they can talk to or what they can wear, and even controlling how they spend their money. These are some examples of tactics designed to dominate and gain power over an intimate partner, and is often rooted in gaining control rather than losing it.

Are children affected by Intimate Partner violence?

Yes, children can suffer lasting emotional and psychological harm when exposed to intimate partner violence. This could include taking on the traits of the person using coercive control, depression, anxiety and depending what the child has observed, post-traumatic stress symptoms. 

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