What is Abuse?
Abuse is the attempt by one person to control another using fear, violence, intimidation. Abuse is not just physical. It may also be emotional, sexual, or psychological.
Emotional Abuse — any words, facial expressions, gestures or actions that humiliate… shame… intimidate… threaten… control… or destroy self-worth.
Sexual Abuse — any unwanted sexual attention or conduct including whistling… degrading remarks… sexual comments… touching… kissing… grabbing… or sex through the use of force, pressure, threats or coercion.
Physical Abuse — slapping… kicking… hitting… spitting… biting… pushing… shoving.
Abuse can also be economic, racist, sexist, homophobic, classest, ethnocultural.
At least one out of every four women in Canada are abused. This violence occurs regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, education or financial status. If the abuse happens once, it is likely that it will happen again with increased severity.
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Signs of Abuse/Abusive Relationships
- Violent outbursts.
- Isolation from family and friends.
- Feelings of worthlessness.
- Physical assault.
- Fear for self or children.
- Threats of violence.
- Threats of destruction of property or injury/death to pets.
- Feelings of guilt or shame.
- Insults, put downs, name calling.
- Jealousy or accusations of cheating.
- Broken promises to change.
- Control of all the money.
- Forced sex.
You May be Abused if Your Partner…
- Puts you down and makes you feel like a nobody.
- Makes it hard for you to leave the house or see your friends and family.
- Beats you.
- Makes you have sex when you don’t want to.
- Makes you feel afraid for yourself or your children.
- Destroys your belongings.
- Makes you feel guilty or blames you for what is happening.
Doesn’t give you enough money to look after yourself or the children.
Children Who See Their Mothers Being Abused May
- Blame themselves for the violence.
- Experience physical complaints such as headaches, stomach aches and other illnesses.
- Have nightmares or difficulty sleeping.
- Act out their mixed emotions either by being aggressive or self-destructive or by trying very hard to be compliant or passive.
- Grow up believing that:
- It is alright for men to hit women.
- Violence is a way to win arguments.
- It is OK to hit someone if you feel angry or upset.
- Men are powerful, women are weak.
- There are few, if any, negative consequences for abusive acts.
They are responsible for the abuse and responsible for solutions.
Characteristics of Abusers
- 80% were abused as children or saw their mothers abused.
- Blame partners for their abusive behaviour.
- Place enormous expectations on partners to feel good about themselves.
- Are very jealous and possessive of partners.
- Tend not to trust other people, and therefore tend not to share inner world with others.
- Have limited or no social network; partner is closest person he knows.
- Highly emotionally dependent on partner; subject to depression known only to family.
- Tend to express all negative feelings as anger.
- Have low self-esteem.
- Get needs met by control, such as violence and threats.
- May threaten suicide if partner leaves.
- Come from all socioeconomic levels; all educational levels; all racial, age and ethnic groups.
- Can be very pleasant outside of the home and very unkind at home.
- Frequently demanding and assaultive in sexual behaviour.
- Hold very traditional, stereotyped views of male-female roles and relationships.
- Lack sympathy for partner’s physical and emotional pain.
- Tend to minimize and deny the abuse.
Why Would a Woman Stay?
One of the biggest misconceptions and tragedies is society’s willingness to blame the victim. We must place responsibility for the crimes on the offenders and stop blaming the victims. “Why doesn’t she just leave him?”
Well, there are lots of reasons why women stay. Here are just a few:
- She loves the partner, not the violence.
- She made a commitment she feels she can’t break.
- She has nowhere else to go.
- She has no money, or fears the poverty that may result for her and her children if she leaves.
- Relatives and in-laws want her to stay.
- She believes her partner can’t get along without her — he may have threatened suicide if she leaves.
- She wants her children to grow up with their father.
- He takes her confidence away so she doesn’t think she can make it on her own.
- She believes her partner will change.
- She is afraid or ashamed.
- He makes her feel guilty and tells her the abuse is her fault.
- She believes she deserves the abuse.
- She’s afraid for her own and her children’s lives.
Leaving a violent situation or relationship is the most dangerous time for a woman. One in five women who reported abuse said that violence occurred following or during a separation. In one-third of these cases, the violence increased in severity at the time of separation. There are many reasons why a woman stays, but the real question is why some men choose to assault and intimidate women.
It is a crime to abuse someone physically or sexually!
Abused? You are not alone. You have options.
Call our 24-hour crisis line for emergency assistance, support and shelter.