On April 29, 2021, a landmark divorce judgment (Droit de la famille — 21964) was rendered by the Honourable Justice Lacoste in which a woman from Laval received $ 17,000 in damages with interest from her ex-spouse for the physical and psychological violence she experienced during the marriage.
As explained by Justice Lacoste, until now this type of request in damages was not commonplace, which is why this case is so important. The woman alleged that over the course of her marriage, her ex-husband would constantly scream at her, insult her and harm her physically, either by pushing, hitting, scratching, or throwing objects at her. The ex-husband did not deny the verbal and physical violence he repeatedly inflicted on his ex-wife. He also pleaded guilty to criminal charges against him for the violence that ensued one evening in August 2018, where the police had to intervene.
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Despite the fact that the woman did not have any witnesses or experts testify, Justice Lacoste was able to establish fault based on the repeated and serious nature of the violence. However, the damages were determined to be limited, leading to $2,000 for compensatory damages, $5,000 for moral damages and $10,000 for exemplary damages for the violation of her fundamental rights protected under the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms (security, integrity, honor and dignity).
Our justice system is making strides in the right direction when it comes to conjugal violence, by holding the perpetrators accountable for their actions. The jurisprudence that has now been established of damages may be awarded for victims of abuse, be it physical or verbal. Certainly this does not make the pain or suffering easier, however the accountability is a step towards healing.