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signs of abuse

1. Different Types of 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, classist, 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


2. 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

• Hits 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


3. Characteristics of an Abuser

• 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 they know

• 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


4. Children Who Witness Abuse 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


5. What to Do

Unsure if you are experiencing abuse?

Trying to decide between staying or leaving?

Wondering how to leave safely?

Halton Women’s Place Crisis, Intervention and Support Lines & Online Chat:

Halton Women’s Place – South: 905-332-7892

Halton Women’s Place – North: 905-878-8555


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