Domestic Violence is a term defined in the Trinidad and Tobago Domestic Violence Act Chap. 45:56 which includes:

physical, sexual, emotional or psychological or financial abuse committed by a person against a spouse, child, and any other person who is a member of the household or dependent“.

The Act goes on to define these types of abuse:

Physical abuse” means any act or omission which causes physical injury and includes the commission of or an attempt to commit any of the offences listed in the First Schedule (listed below).


Assault and Battery, Section 4
Assault upon children, women and old, infirmed, sickly persons, Section 5
Aggravated assaults causing wound or harm, Section 5
Violent or obscene language or disturbance of the peace, Section 49
Possession of weapons intended for crime, Section 62
Throwing stones or other missiles, Section 69
Inciting animals to attack, Section 75
Misuse of telephone facilities and false telegrams, Section 106.

Setting fire to a dwelling house, any person being therein, Section 4
Conspiracy to set fire, Section 10
Destroying or damaging a house with gunpowder, any person being therein, Section 11
Attempting to destroy buildings with gunpowder, Section 12

Conspiring or soliciting to commit murder, Section 5
Attempted murder, Section 9
Sending letters threatening to murder, Section 10
Shooting or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, Section 12
Inflicting injury with or without weapon, Section 14
Attempting to choke, etc., in order to commit any indictable offence, Section 15
Using drugs, etc., with intent to commit offence, Section 16
Administering poison, etc., so as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm, Section 17
Administering poison, etc., with intent to injure or annoy, Section 18
Exposing children so that life endangered, Section 21
Causing bodily injury by explosive substance, Section 22
Use of explosive substance or other noxious thing with intent to do grievous bodily harm, Section 23
Attempting to blow up buildings, Section 26
Drivers of vehicles injuring person by furious driving, Section 26
Procuring abortion, Section 56
Procuring drugs to cause abortion, Section 57

Punishment for cruelty to children and young persons, Section 3
Suffocation of infants, Section 4
Begging, Section 5
Exposing children to risk of burning, Section 6
Allowing children or young persons to be in brothels, Section 7
Causing, encouraging or favouring seduction or prostitution of young girls, Sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

Rape, Section 4
Grievous sexual assault, section 4A
Sexual assault by a husband in certain circumstances, Section 5 (Repealed by Act No. 31 of 2000)
Sexual intercourse with a female under fourteen, Section 6
Sexual intercourse with a female between fourteen and sixteen, Section 7
Sexual intercourse with a male under sixteen, Section 8
Incest, Section 9
Sexual intercourse with adopted minor, Section 10
Sexual intercourse with mentally subnormal person, Section 12
Buggery, Section 13
Serious indecency, Section 16
Procuration, Section 17
Procuring defilement of a person, Section 18
Detention of a person, Section 19
Abduction of a female, Section 20

Sexual abuse” includes sexual contact of any kind that is coerced by force or threat of force and the commission of or an attempt to commit any of the offences listed under the Sexual Offences Act in the First Schedule (above).

Emotional or psychological abuse” means a pattern of behaviour of any kind, the purpose of which is to undermine the emotional or mental well-being of a person including:

  • Persistent intimidation by the use of abusive or threatening language:
  • Persistent following of the person from place to place;
  • Depriving that person of the use of his property;
  • The watching or besetting of the place where the person resides, works, carries on business or happens to be;
  • Interfering with or damaging the property of the person;
  • The forced confinement of the person;
  • Persistent telephoning of the person at the person’s place of residence or work; or
  • Making unwelcome and repeated or intimidating contact with a child or elderly relative of the person.

Financial abuse” means a pattern of behaviour of a kind, the purpose of which is to exercise coercive control over, or exploit or limit a person’s access to financial resources so as to ensure financial dependence.

For immediate relief, victims may seek a protection order from the Court.

Section 5(1) of the Act states that if the Court determines on a balance of probabilities that domestic violence has occurred, it may issue such a protection order in accordance with the Terms of the Protection Order outlining the prohibited behaviour in section 6 of the Act.

Section 5(2) of the Act further states that the Court shall grant a protection order where it is satisfied that the respondent—

  • is engaging in or has engaged in domestic violence against the applicant; or
  • is likely to engage in conduct that would constitute domestic violence,

and in either case, having regard to all the circumstances, the Order is necessary for the protection of the applicant.

Section (9) of the Act states that a protection order may be made for such a period as the Court considers necessary but shall not exceed three years.

A protection order may (a) prohibit the respondent from:

  • engaging or threatening to engage in conduct which would constitute domestic violence towards the applicant;
  • being on premises specified in the Order, that are premises frequented by the applicant including any residence, property, business, school or place of employment;
  •  being in a locality specified in the Order;
  • engaging in direct or indirect communication with the applicant;
  • taking possession of, damaging, converting or otherwise dealing with property that the applicant may have an
  • interest in, or is reasonably used by the applicant, as the case may be;
  • approaching the applicant within a specified distance;
  • causing or encouraging another person to engage in conduct referred to above;

(b) direct that the Order be applied for the benefit of a child or dependant of the applicant or respondent; and

(c) direct that the respondent:

  • return to the applicant specified property that is in his possession or under his control;
  • pay compensation for monetary loss incurred by an applicant as a direct result of conduct that amounted to domestic violence;
  • pay interim monetary relief to the applicant for the benefit of the applicant and any child, where there is no existing order relating to maintenance until such time as an obligation for support is determined, pursuant to any other written law;
  • immediately vacate any place or residence for a specified period, whether or not the residence is jointly owned or leased by the respondent and the applicant, or solely owned or leased by the respondent or the applicant;
  • relinquish to the police any firearm licence, firearm or other weapon which he may have in his possession or control and which may or may not have been used;
  • make or continue to make payments in respect of rent or mortgage payments for premises occupied by the applicant;
  • ensure that reasonable care is provided in respect of a child or dependant person;
  • or that applicant or both, receive professional counselling or therapy from any person or agency or from a programme which is approved by the Minister in writing.


About The Author Jason Nathu

Jason Nathu is an Attorney-at-Law and Tutor attached to the Legal Aid Clinic at the Hugh Wooding Law School.