Montreal

Man who assaulted, confined common-law spouse ordered to pay her $300K

The woman wanted to be compensated and show others that civil law is a way to obtain justice in conjugal violence cases, her lawyer, Daniel Romano, told Radio-Canada.

Woman wanted to be compensated in order to set an example, her lawyer says

The case was heard at the Laval courthouse earlier this month. (Elias Abboud/CBC)

A Quebec judge has ordered a man to pay more than $300,000 to the common-law partner he confined and physically abused in a rare civil case concerning domestic violence.

For the seven years they were together, the man was controlling and aggressive, the woman testified. She is not identified in the court judgment.

The man admitted that he drank too much and took drugs too often, which led to aggressive behaviour.

The woman says that in September 2012, he confined her for three days. He beat her, broke her finger and didn't let her eat, she said.

At one point, she was sure she was going to die, she testified.

One day, the man went out to smoke and she escaped to her mother's house and called Laval police.

The man was subsequently arrested and pleaded guilty to forcible confinement, assault, and aggravated assault, and sentenced to eight months in jail.

After the conviction, the woman decided to sue the man for almost $1 million.

She wanted to be compensated and show other women that civil law is a way to obtain justice in conjugal violence cases, her lawyer, Daniel Romano, told Radio-Canada.

Lived in fear

The woman said those three days changed her life, and that she is still dealing with the fallout.

She lived in fear of him, and is still afraid for her safety, Quebec Superior Court Justice Pierre Journet wrote in his decision. She still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The causal link between the moral, material, and bodily harm the woman suffered is obvious, Journet wrote.

"He controlled her, satisfied his war-like instincts on her, threatened her with reprisals during their life together and wounded her in a primitive and unforgivable attack," he wrote.

What's more, the judge wrote, the man never expressed remorse, saying if she was afraid of him, she was free to go.

Journet ordered the man to pay about $113,000 plus interest for the woman's loss of salary, dental benefits, pension contributions and to reimburse a credit card she let him use.

He also had to pay $125,000 in damages and $75,000 in punitive damages, $25,000 for each day she was confined, as well as legal fees.

Her lawyer, Romano, said he believes the judgment will set a precedent, and will send a message to other victims that "they are not alone, others have faced the same thing and that they have options."

With files from Radio-Canada

now