What is Abuse

Abuse is an attempt to control the behaviour of another person. It is a misuse of power, which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the victim vulnerable.

Domestic violence is not limited to physical assault. It occurs in all socio-economic groups and cultural/religious backgrounds and affects women of all ages.

The United Nations (Commission on the Status of Women, 1993) defines violence against women as:

“…any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty whether occurring in public or private life.”

The most important thing to realize about domestic assault is that it is a crime.

Types of abuse

There are many types of abuse that include:

  • Hitting, punching, beating, slapping, pulling hair, use of weapons, mutilation, burning, biting;
  • Any forced sexual contact ranging from unwanted touching to rape, harassment;
  • Threats, insults, name-calling, unjust blaming and accusing, swearing, shouting;
  • Withholding love, sympathy or understanding, inadequate physical or emotional care, isolation, intimidation, extreme jealousy, destroying property, threatening to commit suicide;
  • Stealing, withholding money and/or denying access to employment opportunities, preventing access to household financial information;
  • Belittling a person’s spiritual beliefs or preventing them from attending the church, synagogue or temple of their choice;
  • Delivering threatening or harassing messages through one or more of the following: e-mail; text message; social networks (such as Facebook and Twitter); chat rooms; message boards; newsgroups; and forums.


Other variations of cyber-abusing include the following:

  • sending inappropriate electronic greeting cards;
  • posting personal advertisements in the victim’s name;
  • creating Web sites that contain threatening or harassing messages or that contain provocative or pornographic photographs, most of which have been altered;
  • sending viruses to the victim’s computer;
  • using spy-ware to track Web site visits or record keystrokes the victim makes; and
  • sending harassing messages to the victim’s employers, co-workers, students, teachers, customers, friends, families or churches or sending harassing messages forged in the victim’s name to others.

CYBER SOURCE: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/fv-vf/pub/har/part1.php

Cycle of abuse

Domestic violence (also called wife abuse, family violence and partner assault) is rarely a one-time occurrence. It usually takes place as part of a cycle that includes the following phases…

Insults and other verbal attacks; minor abusive situations; victim tries to be compliant, “walks on eggshells,” and feels helpless; atmosphere becomes increasingly more oppressive.

Built-up tensions erupt into incidents ranging from severe verbal/emotional abuse to physical/sexual assault and can last from a few minutes to a few days, depending on the relationship. It is during this time that a woman is most likely to be seriously injured or killed by her partner.

Following a violent episode the abuser is usually contrite and attentive; the victim once again recognizes the person they first fell in love with and may be inclined to believe their promises to change.

Are you a victim?

Think you might be a victim? Not sure? Know someone who might be and aren’t sure if you are overreacting? Take this quick and simple test to help collect your thoughts.

If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions on the survey, your relationship may be abusive. Don’t ignore or minimize these warning signs. Get help. You can call Nova Vita’s 24-hour Crisis Line at 519.752.HELP (4357) or 911 if you have an emergency.

What is abuse?: MYTH VS REALITY

There are many myths that exist when it comes to the reality of domestic violence. Below are a few we’ve come across over the years:

Wife assault doesn’t happen that frequently and in most cases, the incidents are blown out of proportion.

In a study conducted by the Ministry of the Solicitor General, one in five Canadian men living with a woman admitted to using violence against her. Accurate statistics are difficult to attain since domestic abuse remains a largely under-reported crime – the police are called in just 22% of incidents.

Domestic abuse mainly affects the young and poor.

Abuse is a widespread problem and occurs in all racial, ethnic, social, economic and age groups.

Women often do things to provoke their partners.

Domestic violence is rooted in the perpetrator’s desire for power and control. Victims report a wide range of “reasons” for the outbursts, many as minor as “buttering the toast the wrong way.” Abusive partners may avoid taking responsibility for their actions and blame the victim: “She made me do it.”

 Alcohol and drugs are leading causes of domestic assault.

Alcohol or illegal drugs are often present in domestic violence incidents. Abusers may blame their violent behaviour on alcohol/drugs. Thus avoiding responsibility for their actions. The true cause of domestic assault, is the desire to intimidate and control.

Perpetrators of domestic assault are mentally ill.

Batterers are generally not violent outside the home or with other people they interact with – such as their friends, colleagues and bosses. Mentally ill people would not be able to practice such selective violence.

Men are just as likely to be the victims of domestic assault as women.

More than 92% of charges involving domestic assault in Ontario are laid against men. In the majority of cases involving women as perpetrators, charges are due to acts of self-defense or counter-charges laid by abusive partners. Women suffer more frequent and extreme incidents of violence than men and are more likely to sustain serious or life-threatening injuries.