I'm new to Canada and my partner is violent

In Canada, assault is a crime.

  • It is assault for your partner to hit you, kick you, or physically hurt you in any way.
  • It is also a crime if your partner threatens to do these things to you.

You have a right to be safe

If you fear for your safety or the safety of your children, call the police at 9-1-1 or VictimLINK BC at 1-800-563-0808; TTY: 604-875-0885. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text them at 604-836-6381 or email .

VictimLINK BC provides service in all the major languages spoken in British Columbia. This service is private. They will not tell your sponsor or the government or anyone else about your call.

Staff at VictimLink BC will connect you to services and programs that can help you. These include victim services, transition houses, legal and counselling services. Staff at VictimLink BC can also give you information about the laws and the justice system.

If your partner is violent, you do not have to stay in the relationship. This is the case even if your partner is your immigration sponsor.

What if I was sponsored by my partner?

  • If you have permanent residence status or conditional permanent resident status, you will not lose your status if you report the assault to police or leave a violent relationship.
  • You will not be deported. You may be able to get welfare (money from the government for basic needs such as housing, food and clothing).
  • If you do not have permanent residence status, it is more difficult. But there are some options. Canadian immigration offers some protection to newcomers who are assaulted by their partners. You may be able to apply to stay in Canada for “humanitarian and compassionate” reasons.
  • Any assault on Canadian soil is a crime. You can get help from people who understand. Call VictimLINK BC at 1-800-563-0808.

What if I sponsored my partner?

If you sponsored your partner, get the help of a lawyer. You may be able to withdraw your sponsorship.

What will happen to my children?

You will not lose your rights to your children if:

  • you report the crime of assault, or
  • you leave a partner who assaults or threatens you.

Who will help me?

There are organizations that help newcomers in your situation. They provide support so you can make your own decisions about what is best for you. Ask your settlement worker who to contact.

If you have a legal problem, but cannot afford a lawyer, the Legal Services Society (LSS) may be able to help you with legal information, advice and representation services. Call the LSS Call Centre at 604-408-2172 or 1-866-577-2525.

To find information and help in your own language, go to Clicklaw.

Read the fact sheet If Your Sponsor Abuses You on the Family Law in BC website.

To view videos about domestic violence in different languages, see Violence Against Women Videos on the People’s Law School website.

You may also find this website helpful (in English): Domestic Violence - It’s Never OK.

Justice Education Society Citizenship and Immigration Canada Welcome BC City of Vancouver