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How do you put a dollar value on 38 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse committed by a husband and father?

By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer

Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)

“How do you put a dollar value on 38 years of physical, psychological and sexual abuse committed by a husband and father?”

Mr. Justice Lofchik was asked this very question and stated that “where a husband and father preys upon members of his family, no amount of money can adequately compensate them for what they have been through.” He decided that an appropriate amount is $300,000 - the highest award in Canadian history for civil damages resulting from abuse within the family.

On March 12, 2002, the court rendered its decision in the case of C.S.F. v. J.F. [2002] O.J. No. 1350 after hearing evidence from Catherine Flachs who had testified at trial that during her 38 year marriage to the defendant John Flachs, a Hamilton businessman, he regularly punched her with his fists, kicked her, pushed her, spat on her, strangled her, caused burns to her body, beat her with a cane and, on one occasion, stepped on her hand when she reached for a hearing device which had fallen out of her ear when he struck her. Over the years she had suffered injuries such as bruised ribs, broken ribs, a punctured lung, sprains, bruises and having her hair pulled out by the roots. She also testified about being raped on one occasion when she refused to have sex with her husband.

Lorraine Van Der Slyke was one of the couple’s three daughters. Ms. Van Der Slyke witnessed the continued and repetitive abuse suffered by her mother and became a victim of abuse herself. The defendant hit and punched her in the face and dragged her by the hair. He sexually assaulted her by touching her on several occasions and lying on top of her on another. Ms. Van Oer Slyke attempted suicide when she was 16 years old and stayed at a youth shelter for nine months.

In reaching his decision, Mr. Justice Lofchik stated that “the defendant here abused his position as head of the household and turned the home into a place of fear and brutality.”

Steven Benmor

About the author: Steven Benmor practices Family Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit Steven Benmor’s online Family Law Resource Center for concise answers to many more frequently asked Family law questions, feature articles on Family law topics, dozens of links to other Family law websites, and more at The information on this page is for discussion purposes only. It is by no means legal advice or even a statement of the law on this subject. Please do not rely on the accuracy or completeness of this information. Any question or concern elicited by the information on this page should be taken to a lawyer who will consider the facts of each case and the legal remedies available.