Is it happening to you?

Abuse is about power and control – and it’s not just physical; there are many different kinds of abuse. If you experience any or all of the following, please access help now.

Here are some of the warning signs.
  • Making or carrying out threats to do something to cause hurt.
  • Threatening to leave, to commit suicide, to report you to social welfare
  • Pressuring you to drop charges
  • Forcing you to commit illegal acts
  • Making you afraid by using looks, actions, gestures
  • Smashing things
  • Destroying your property
  • Abusing pets
  • Displaying weapons
  • Preventing you from keeping or getting a job
  • Making you ask for money
  • Giving you an allowance
  • Taking your money
  • Not letting you know about or having access to family income
  • Putting you down
  • Making you feel bad about yourself
  • Calling you names
  • Making you think you’re crazy
  • Playing mind games
  • Humiliating you
  • Making you feel guilty
  • Treating you like a servant
  • Making all the big decisions
  • Acting as the ‘master of the castle’
  • Being the one defining the men’s and women’s roles
  • Controlling what you do, who you see and talk to, what you read and where you go
  • Limiting your outside involvement
  • Using jealousy to justify actions
  • Making you feel guilty about the children
  • Using the children to relay messages
  • Using visitation to harass you
  • Threatening to take the children away
  • Making light of the abuse and not taking your concerns about it seriously
  • Stating that the abuse didn’t happen
  • Shifting responsibility for the abusive behaviour, saying you caused it

Fear is a critical element of family and domestic violence and is often the most powerful way a perpetrator controls his victim. Fear is created by giving looks or making gestures, possessing weapons (even if they are not used), destroying property, cruelty to pets, or any behaviour that can intimidate and render the victim powerless.

Verbal abuse can include using words as a weapon to cause significant damage. This may consist of screaming, shouting, put-downs, name-calling, swearing, using sarcasm or ridicule.

  • Physical abuse involves physical force that has the intent to intimidate, frighten or harm.
  • It can include behaviour such as: pushing
  • shoving
  • tripping
  • hitting
  • slapping
  • scratching
  • elbowing
  • burning
  • scalding
  • choking
  • attempted strangulation
  • hair-pulling
  • punching
  • biting
  • spitting
  • gouging
  • pinching
  • dragging
  • forcing you to sit, stand or lay down
  • restricting your movement, blocking your way

 

  • Violence may or may not involve the use of weapons.
  • It could also include threats to destroy or destroying prized possessions.
  • It can range from a lack of consideration for your physical comfort to causing permanent injury or even death.
  • Physical abuse can result in a person feeling powerless and that their life has become unpredictable resulting in low self-worth, depression and anxiety.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse can be like being brainwashed. It is a form of control designed to seek power over another person by controlling their time, behaviour and environment.
  • It includes behaviour that deliberately undermines someone’s confidence, leading them to believe they are stupid, that they are a bad mother, useless, or even to think they’re going crazy or are insane.
  • This type of abuse humiliates, degrades and demeans the victim. It includes the use of obscenities, threats, insults, harassment, put-downs, name-calling, being ignored, invalidated, ridiculed, humiliated, criticised, threatened, blackmailed, forced, having privileges withheld, guilt tactics, mind games, implied ‘craziness’ jealousy, isolation etc.
  • The perpetrator may threaten to harm the victim, her friends or family members, take her children or commit suicide.
  • The perpetrator may also use silence and withdrawal as a means of abuse.
  • Social abuse involves persistent manipulative and intimidating behaviours aimed at achieving isolation to increase control over someone. It includes isolating the victim from her social networks and supports, either by preventing her from having contact with her family or friends or by verbally or physically abusing her in public or in front of others.
  • It may involve continually putting friends and family down, so she becomes slowly disconnected from her support network.
  • It includes insults, threats, belittling remarks, ridicule, criticism and sarcasm aimed at embarrassing, shaming and humiliating in public.
  • The person may act as possessive and jealous, using this as an excuse to justify their behaviour.
  • Social abuse can result in low self-worth, loneliness, depression, anxiety/panic attacks and poor social confidence.
  • Financial abuse involves the perpetrator taking complete control of all the finances, spending and decision-making about money. Hence, the victim is financially dependent on her partner and cannot function independently.  This type of abuse is often a contributing factor for women becoming ‘trapped’ in violent relationships.
  • Examples include things like being denied access to your bank account or having your paycheque taken, being denied money for personal use or having to account for everything you spent, even having to supply receipts and dockets.
  • It can also include not being allowed to get employment or keep your job, spending money inappropriately, selling or hocking your possessions, accumulating debt, etc.

Sexual abuse involves any unwanted sexual acts or behaviours. It may include forced sexual contact, rape, forcing her to perform sexual acts that cause pain or humiliation, forcing her to have sex with others or causing injury to her sexual organs.

Spiritual abuse involves ridiculing or putting down someone’s beliefs and culture, preventing them from belonging to or taking part in a group that is important to their spiritual beliefs or practising their religion.

  • Control is a part of all types of abuse as described above but includes the perpetrator dictating what she does, who she sees and talks to, where she goes, keeping her from making any friends, talking to her family, or having any money of her own.
  • It can include preventing her from going to work, not allowing her to express her feelings or thoughts or make decisions for herself, not allowing her any privacy or forcing her to go without food or water.
  • Intimidation is also a part of most types of abuse. It includes smashing things, destroying her possessions, putting a fist through the wall, handling guns or other weapons, using intimidating body language (angry looks, raised voice), hostile questioning of the victim or reckless driving with the victim in the car.
  • It may also include harassing the victim at her workplace, either by making persistent phone calls or sending text messages or emails, following her to and from work or loitering near her workplace.
  • Often after the relationship has ended, the violence may continue.  It can be a dangerous time for the victim because the perpetrator may perceive a loss of control over the victim and become more unpredictable.
  • During and after separation is often a time when violence will escalate, leaving the victim more unsafe than ever.
  • Sometimes the victim is stalked by the perpetrator either before or after separation. Stalking includes loitering around places she is known to frequent, watching her, following her, making persistent telephone calls and sending mail, including unwanted love letters, cards and gifts, even though the relationship has ended.
  • Stalking is a criminal offence. Stalking is any one of the above behaviours occurring repeatedly or a variety of the above behaviours.