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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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Part 5: Protecting yourself

You have to make decisions about your safety.

As well as testifying against your partner in criminal court, you might want to bring actions against him in other courts. For example, you might want to start a family law case against your partner.

In most criminal cases, the Crown Attorney is in charge of the case. You only testify as a witness.

Crown Attorney: a government lawyer who presents the case against the person accused of a crime in criminal court. They work for the government and are not the victim's lawyer.

At family court, you are in charge of your own case. You hire a lawyer to represent you, and the lawyer takes direction from you. You can ask for civil protection orders to help protect you and your children. For example, you can ask for a restraining order or an order for exclusive possession of your home.

Restraining order: a court order that says what your partner cannot do. For example, the order might say where he cannot go, or who he cannot contact.

Exclusive possession: a court order that says one partner can stay in, or return to, the home and the other partner is not allowed on the property. If there are children, the order usually also says that the children are allowed on the property. The order is usually temporary. The court doesn't decide who owns the home or who rented it when deciding which partner can stay in it.