The Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) is comprised of a police investigator in partnership with community social work professionals who are experienced in dealing with victims of domestic violence. The DVU works under the direct supervision of the Operational Support Branch sergeant, and is also accountable to an advisory committee comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Child and Family Development and other community organizations with direct interest and involvement.
Mandate and Goal of the DVU
The mandate of the DVU is to provide prompt follow-up service to those experiencing violence and other forms of abuse in their relationships. These incidents are usually referred to the DVU by Patrol Division members. In addition, the DVU will proactively identify women at risk of domestic violence and intervene wherever possible.
The goal of the DVU is to review all files forwarded to the Unit and to select cases for follow-up which meet the criteria of the mandate. When the DVU is involved and charges are laid, the victims are supported throughout, including to trial, to reduce the likelihood of the victim “dropping out” of the prosecution.
The DVU is not able to follow-up all cases initially investigated by Patrol Division members because of the numbers involved. Cases are selected based on several factors, including the level of risk to the victim.
Providing education and training to Patrol Division members and to the public regarding the dynamics of domestic violence is also an important function of the DVU.
What is Domestic Violence?
When people talk about violence in relationships, they are usually talking about abuse. Abuse includes a range of behaviour—from intimidation and threats, to physical or sexual assault. An abuser uses threats and violence to gain power and control over his or her partner and to take away their self-worth.
Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal or financial. Some examples of abusive behaviour:
- Humiliating or degrading you in front of others
- Isolating you or stopping you from leaving the home (including removing the phone, taking the only vehicle when you live far from town or not letting you see friends or family)
- Yelling at you, insulting you or calling you names
- Constantly criticizing and blaming you for everything
- Controlling and limiting what you do, where you go, who you see
- Threatening to hurt you, your children, someone you know, or anything that is special to you (like a pet or something you treasure)
- Frightening you by driving recklessly or threatening you with a weapon
- Breaking or damaging your property
- Taking your money or controlling all the money in the household and not letting you have any
- Threatening to have you deported
- Opening and reading your mail or other private papers
- Following you or watching you wherever you are
- Repeatedly phoning you (for example, at work or in the middle of the night)
- Forcing you into sexual activity that you don’t want
- Shoving, slapping, choking, punching or kicking you
- Hurting you with an object of any kind.
Abuse may start out as verbal or emotional and may gradually increase to physical or sexual violence. After incidents of abuse, a partner or ex-partner can seem to be very sorry or very loving.