How Can I Use it to Keep me Safe?
On April 1, 2021, the Disclosure to Protect Against Domestic Violence came into effect in Alberta, also known as Clare’s Law. This new law will allow individuals who feel at risk of domestic violence the ability to access their partner’s criminal records to find out if their partner has an abusive or violent past. In turn, this allows people to make informed decisions about potentially harmful partner relationships.
First off, it’s important to remember that Alberta has the 3rd highest domestic violence rate in Canada. And domestic violence calls have DOUBLED in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more disturbing is a recent report published by Women’s Shelters Canada which found that people experiencing abuse are getting more severe injuries and leading to more fatalities and hospitalizations. In 2018, nearly 25% of homicides in Calgary and Edmonton were believed to be the result of domestic violence.
There is a common misconception that victims of domestic abuse can easily leave their partner… but it’s really not that simple, especially if they have children with the abuser. Leaving an abusive relationship is often the most dangerous time for individuals being abused. Even years after they may have left the relationship, they live in a constant state of fear for their lives and their safety.
This is exactly what happened to a woman in the United Kingdom named Clare. Clare Wood met her boyfriend online and dated for 15 months. In 2009, Clare was found murdered in her own home after splitting up with George because she feared for her safety, and rightfully so. Months before her brutal death, she had even contacted the police claiming George had threatened to kill and sexually assault her. After her death, her family learned that George indeed had a violent past and had spent six years in prison for holding a woman at knife point for 12 hours. As a result of public outcry and her family’s efforts, Clare’s Law was introduced in the UK in 2014 and has since spread across Australia and has now been adopted in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
The Government of Alberta is hoping that this new Bill will help individuals seek information about their partners if they suspect they are violent. With this knowledge, more individuals may feel empowered to seek further help/leave the relationship.
To be eligible for Clare’s Law, a person must
- Live in Alberta
- Be in an intimate partner relationship
- Have a reason for applying which details why they feel at risk
- Have met the person they have requested information on
- Be willing to talk to, and meet with police to receive disclosure information
If you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence or coercive control and you have their consent, you can submit a Clare’s Law Application on your/their behalf at https://www.alberta.ca/clares-law.aspx.
If you would like to know more about Clare’s Law or need support in making an application, give us a call to book a phone consult. We can help walk you through the process. 780.460.2195 ext. 301.