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  • What Is Abuse?

    Abuse comes in many forms and is not just physical or sexual assault. It is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.

    It's About Power & Control

    Abuse is about power and control, one persons desire to control another person.
    Abusers will use any available tools to achieve this control.
    The abuse itself can be physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, verbal, sexual and/or financial.
    It can occur during the relationship, during the break up of the relationship or after the relationship has ended.
    It is important to remember that not all abuse constitutes a criminal act.
    Abusive partners try to control every aspect of their partner's life:
    • What they are allowed to wear
    • Who they are allowed to talk to
    • What they are allowed to purchase
    • Whether or not they are allowed to work
    • The amount of contact with family and friends
    • Parenting of the children

    Does This Sound Familiar?

    Do you feel like any or all of these aspects of your life are being controlled by your intimate partner?
    If so, how is your partner able to control your behaviour? Is it through fear?
    Are you being threatened directly or are there threats directed at loved ones including your children or pets?
    Are you made to feel inadequate or incapable of handling tasks on your own?
    Do you have access to the family finances or does your partner use finances to control your lifestyle?
    Are you able to socialize freely with family and friends?
    Do you suffer from constant harassment from your partner?
    Are you free to practice in your spiritual beliefs or are your beliefs ridiculed?

    Does your partner follow you or frequently check the odometer on your vehicle?
    Are your phone calls monitored?
    Are you being physically assaulted in any way?
    • Pushed or shoved
    • Slapped or punched
    • Choked or held against your will
    • Objects thrown at you
    • Or even through acts or gestures
    Are you forced to have sex against your will?
    Are you forced to participate in degrading sexual activity?
    Has your partner ever threatened to commit suicide if you do not comply with certain requests or demands?

    Answering yes to any number of these questions may indicate that you are in an abusive relationship.

    Woman Abuse

    Woman abuse is defined as physical, emotional, psychological, stalking/harassment, sexual, financial, and/or threats of such abuse directed at a female by a person known to her in an attempt to control her. In this definition, control refers to an attempt on the abuser's part to force a woman to comply with anything against her wishes. Woman abuse occurs regardless of socio-economic status, class, age, sexual orientation, occupation, mental health status, citizenship status, ability, spirituality practices, language, race, culture or ethnicity.
    It is also recognized that in our society, violence against women is perpetrated predominantly, but not exclusively, by males against females. There are, however, female perpetrators of violence.
    Although the abuse may involve repeated episodes with increasing severity, it may also be a one-time occurrence causing physical or emotional injury that is detrimental to the woman's well being or that of her family.
    What Types Of Abuse Are Criminal?
    While it is important to recognize that not all women suffering abuse want to involve law enforcement, some may feel it is necessary. Keep in mind that if you do report an incident to the police, if the police feel there are sufficient grounds they will lay a charge. This does two things; it diverts blame for the laying of charges away from the victim and places it on the police and it stops the offender from feeling that he can get away with the abuse even if the police are called.
    The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services defines domestic violence occurrences as any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship, including emotional/ psychological abuse or harassing behaviour.
    To charge your partner with domestic abuse the abuse must contravene the criminal code. These contraventions would include homicide, assault, sexual assault, threatening death or bodily harm, forcible confinement, harassing/stalking, kidnapping, property-related including theft or mischief (vandalism) and includes breaches of court orders made under the criminal code or when there is a contravention of a valid order under sections 24 and 46 of the Family Law Act and section 35 of the Children's Law Reform Act.
    *Note: Section 24 of the Family Law Act involves possession of the matrimonial home while section 46 involves the acts of molesting, annoying or harassing. Section 35 of the Children's Law Reform Act involves an order restraining harassment.
    Harassment Comes In Many Different Forms:
    The criminal definition includes one or more of the following;
    • Repeated following of the victim or a person known to the victim
    • Repeated communication (phone calls, letters, emails) directly or indirectly (through another
    • person) with the victim
    • Watching or besetting any place where the victim may be
    • Threatening conduct towards the victim or any member of the victims family
    • If any of these behaviours cause the victim to have a reasonable concern for their safety then the
    • criminal code definition has been met.
    • Harassment as laid out in the Family Law Act or the Children's Law Reform Act would have a
    • broader definition which would lower the threshold. This would include all of the behaviours listed
    • in the criminal code definition but the behaviours would stand on their own whether or not the
    • victim has a reasonable fear.
    • While not all domestic abuse will result in criminal charges it is necessary to recognize it for what
    • it is and take the appropriate steps to end the abuse.
    • Many victims do not even recognize the abuse until it has escalated to the point where they are in
    • serious danger.
    • Recognizing the signs early can greatly increase the safety of abuse victims by taking action before
    • this escalation occurs

    Definitions Of Abuse

    Psychological And Emotional Abuse

    Is any act that provokes fear, diminishes the woman's dignity or sense of self-worth, and/or intentionally inflicts psychological trauma as a means of exerting power and control over the woman. These may include, but are not limited to, on-going criticism, intimidation, humiliation, overly sarcastic comments, passive/aggressive control, harassment, threats to harm self or others, threats to harm pets, threats associated with immigration status, threats to take children away, inappropriate expressions of jealousy, brainwashing, dominance, degradation, possessiveness, control over daily activities, social isolation, purposeful destruction of property and use of privilege in society to threaten or coerce.

    Financial Abuse

    Includes controlling or restricting money to buy necessities such as medicine, medical supplies, food and clothing. It also includes withholding information about household financial matters, denying access to bank accounts and coercion to sign financial documents. Financial abuse can also include denying the right to seek and/or maintain employment, taking personal money, denying independent access to money, and/or excluding the woman from financial decision-making.

    Physical Abuse

    Includes bodily harm, discomfort or injury caused by hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, pushing, burning, biting, spitting, dragging, pulling, using weapons and objects, restraining, confining, stalking and/or the withholding of food and/or medical attention.

    Sexual Abuse

    Includes any unwanted or forced sexual activity, including touching and intercourse. It also includes the possibility of exposure to sexual transmitted diseases and/or pregnancy by denying the use of protection during intercourse, and forced exposure to or participation in pornography or prostitution. It also includes withholding sex and demeaning women sexually through jokes, and sexual accusations.

    Spiritual Abuse

    Includes degrading the woman's spiritual beliefs, withholding the means to practice, and/or forcing adherence to a particular belief system.

    Stalking and Harassment

    Includes behaviour which, in some cases, are against the law and known as "criminal harassment"? One of the key elements, which turn stalking behaviour into a crime, is the woman?s fear for her own safety or the safety of others. Stalking and harassment can take many different forms but usually is a pattern formed by repeated actions, or a series of different incidents. Each small incident may not seem important, but all the incidents together constitute a pattern. There is no complete list of stalking behaviour as these behaviours are added to from experience.


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