Abuse is a pattern of behaviors. It is also called domestic violence, family violence, spousal abuse, and wife battering. Unequal power balance in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship is used to gain or maintain power and control over a partner. It may involve fear, intimidation, threats, physical violence, financial control, and so on.
Our relationships and families should provide us with the things we all need: like love, being cared for, support and safety. But sometimes this is not our experience…
Does your partner, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your friend, your carer, or a family member:
Make you feel uncomfortable or afraid?
Often put you down, humiliate you, or make you feel worthless?
Constantly check up on what you’re doing or where you are going?
Try to stop you from seeing your own friends or family?
Make you feel afraid to disagree or say ‘no’ to them?
Constantly accuse you of flirting with others when this isn’t true?
Tell you how the household finances should be spent, or stop you having any money for yourself?
Stop you from having medical assistance?
Scare or hurt you by being violent (like hitting, choking, smashing things, locking you in, driving dangerously to frighten you)
Pressure or force you to do sexual things that you don’t want to do?
Threaten to hurt you, or to kill themselves if you say you want to end the relationship?
Have your children heard or seen these things or been hurt themselves?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these, then there are signs that you are not being treated right, or that you are being abused.
If you don’t feel safe, respected and cared for, then something isn’t right.
Abuse happens when one person tries to control or hurt another.
Abuse may be physical, such as hitting, pushing or choking.
Abuse can also be other things, like putting you down and making you feel worthless, or being possessive and jealous to stop you from speaking to friends or family. Forcing or tricking someone into doing sexual things is also abuse.
These things can be just as hurtful as physical violence.
- Alberta has the highest rate of reported spousal assault in Canada at 11 per cent. (Alberta Round Table on Family Violence and Bullying).
- Family violence is not caused by the use of alcohol or drugs. Abusers who assault their victims often use alcohol or drugs as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for their violent behavior.
- Family violence occurs in all ethnic, racial, economic, social, and age groups. There are no exceptions.
- Family violence is a crime. It is not a private matter…
- Family violence affects everyone, including the children. Violence is not a normal part of an intimate relationship.
- Family violence is not an illness. Abusers control their actions by choosing a time and place for the assaults to take place in private and go undetected. They physically hurt their victims on areas of their body where bruises do not show.
- Family violence has no excuse. There is no excuse for violence. There are other ways to deal with a problem or situation without resorting to violence.
- Family violence affects the children. They are often witnesses to family violence and what they have seen and heard leaves a strong impact on them. They may suffer from anxiety, fear, or depression. They may be intimidated by the experience and become withdrawn, timid and shy. They may display aggressive behavior with their siblings and friends. They may also perform poorly in school.
- Family violence is rarely a one time, isolated occurrence. It is a pattern of coercion and control that one person exert over another using different tactics; physical violence is just one of them.
- Pregnant women and women with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to assault.
NO! No one can cause another person to be violent! Your partner makes choices about how to respond to you or to his own frustrations. Abusers often blame their partners for their violence but the choice is your partner’s responsibility. Violence is never justified.
Family violence is not a new issue; on the contrary, it has been perpetuated for centuries. Some of the factors that perpetuate family violence are:
- Belief in the inherent superiority of males.
- Women’s economic dependence on men.
- Domestic violence not being taken seriously enough.
- Gender-specific socialization.
- Cultural definitions of appropriate sex roles.
- Acceptability of violence as a means to resolve conflict.
If you are constantly put down, humiliated in front of others & feel afraid of your partner, you may be abused. Abuse may include physical violence, threats, intimidation, isolation; and emotional, sexual, financial, and spiritual abuse. Often, abusers use their children to manipulate their partners by threatening to harm them, force them to participate in the abuse, use visitation to harass the victim, or fight extended custody battles to punish the partner.
It is common for abusers to be apologetic after being abusive. But this doesn’t mean they stop being abusive. In fact, many abusers follow a repeating cycle where there is a period of increasing abusiveness, then an incident of violence followed by a period of worry of being caught and attempts to make up. Through apologies and promises in order to avoid consequences, they may try to get you to take them back, drop a restraining order, or drop a criminal charge.
If you are considering leaving an abusive relationship there are some actions that you may want to take:
- Call the police in an emergency.
- Call our crisis line 780.464.7233 to get information and support.
- Make a Safety Plan.
- Talk to a friend or family member.
- Look for a safe place to stay (with family or at a shelter).
- Prepare an Escape Plan.
Making a safety plan involves identifying the steps you can take to increase your safety and helps to prepare you and your children in advance for the possibility of further violence.
If you are in a violent relationship, consider taking the following actions to keep yourself safe.
- Look for possible escape route(s) in the house.
- Save money in secret when you can and hide it or open a savings account & instruct the bank not to send statements to your home address.
- Make arrangements with friends or family so you can stay with them if necessary.
- Do not inform your partner that you are going to leave. It may not be safe. Leave when he is gone or create an excuse to leave the house.
- Secure transportation.
- Prepare an escape bag filled with things you will need if you leave (i.e. clothes, extra keys, important documents, prescribed medicines). Keep it in a safe place; if possible away from home with a friend or relative.
- Create a code word with your children and family so they know when to call for help.
- Keep all your identification papers in your wallet.
Teach your children their own safety plan (i.e. safe place to go, how to call 911, emergency exits).
- Tell people you trust about the abuse.
- Prepare and practice your escape plan.
- Copy and collect all important documents and place them in a safe place (friend’s home or safety deposit box in a bank where your partner does not go).
- Alberta Health Care and Social Insurance cards.
- Credit and bank cards, chequebook.
- Birth certificates (for you and the children).
- Passport, immigration or citizenship papers.
- Titles of property, lease, mortgage, and insurance papers.
- Immunization card for the children.
- Driver’s license and car registration.
- Custody order, separation or divorce papers.
- Take personal items with you such as:
- Medication and prescriptions for you and your children.
- Keys to your house, car, office, safety deposit box.
- Clothing for you and the children.
- Personal hygiene products.
- Items of special sentimental value.
- Children’s favorite toy and/or blanket.
- Eye glasses and any needed medical equipment.
- Take the children with you if possible. It is not considered kidnapping; both parents have equal rights to their children unless there is a court order. If you try to get them later, the police cannot help you to remove them from their other parent unless you have a valid court order.
If you are not able to take anything with you when you leave, you can return to your home later with a police escort to gather your personal belongings.
You can prepare a safety plan in advance for your children.
If you are at home teach them:
- Not to get in the middle of a fight, even if they want to help.
- Who to call for help; to call 911 & give your address & phone number to the police.
- How to get to safety.
If you are not living with the abuser:
- Give the principal at school or the daycare center a copy of your court order; tell them not to release your children to anyone without talking to you first; use a password so they can be sure it is you on the phone; give them a photo of the abuser.
- Make sure the children know who to tell at school if they see the abuser.
Make sure that the school knows not to give your address or phone number to ANYONE.