What is Abuse?
There are many more forms of abuse than just physical abuse which we sometimes see in news headlines. Abuse is anything your partner does that makes you feel worthless and afraid.
Abuse is not just physical. Insults, threats and controlling who you are allowed to talk to and see are every bit as damaging as physical violence and needs to be taken seriously. It can be difficult to accept that you are being abused; it is difficult to understand why the person that you loved enough to share your life with would willingly hurt you.
Living with abuse is a reality for so many women in our society regardless of their age, religion, culture, income level or status. Recognizing the abuse is the first step to living a healthy life without violence, it is possible.
The reality about abuse or domestic violence is that it is your partner trying to gain control over you, it is something that may occur once but usually happens over and over again and often gets worse with time. The abuse may take on many forms such as: hitting, shoving, and calling you names, controlling all the money, not letting you practice your religion or stalking and harassing you. He may force you to have sex or watch pornography when you do not want to. You may feel that you are “walking on eggshells” living in fear of the next violent outburst.
Here are some examples of the various types of abuse:
- Emotional ‐
- Hurting with words through name-calling and put-downs; for example, insults relating to your intelligence; appearance; your ability with work, family, cooking, calling you stupid, facial expressions and gestures that humiliate etc.
- Psychological ‐
- Could include threatening you, your children or your pets; forcing use of psychiatric medication; forcing or stopping you from practicing your religion; damaging property (e.g., punching walls, tampering with your car, throwing things across the room)
- Financial ‐
- Limiting your financial freedoms or damaging your financial security or peace of mind; for example, refusing access to money or credit, forbidding shopping, ruining your reputation or credit rating, stealing your money
- Sexual ‐
- Forcing involvement in any undesired sexual act or making “loaded” comments relating to sexuality; for example, inferring that you must be having an affair if you don’t want to have sex or pressuring you to have sex by saying, “If you loved me you would….
- Physical ‐
- injuring you or your children (e.g., pushing, slapping, cornering, restraining, hitting or worse)
- Digital abuse ‐
- the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behaviour is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online.
Each type of abuse is cruel, killing the soul if not the body of the person being abused. Each type of abuse must stop if we want our families and communities to be healthy and strong.
If you need help dealing with any type of abuse, call us day or night at 905-684-8331. We’ll be glad to listen, help you identify options and discuss steps you might want to take.
Myths About Abuse
The more you understand about abuse, the stronger you’ll be in fighting it. This section is designed to help you understand what is myth about abuse and what is reality.
Myth: Men rarely assault their wives.
Reality: Wife assault is more common than you might think. One in four Canadian women have experienced some form of abuse in their lifetime.
Myth: Most abused women are young and poor.
Reality: Abuse occurs among women of all ages and income levels. Similarly, abuse occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups.
Myth: Women often provoke their partners to violence.
Reality: Domestic violence stems from the abuser’s desire for power and control. Even something very minor, such as buttering toast the wrong way, can trigger an abuser’s fury. An abuser who says, “She made me do it,” is avoiding responsibility for his actions.
Myth: Maybe you tell yourself the hurtful behavior would stop if only he would stop drinking or start taking his medication.
Reality: The true cause of abuse is the abuser’s desire to control another human being. An abuser who blames alcohol and drugs is shirking responsibility for the harm he has caused.
Myth: The children are not impacted because they are asleep when the abuse takes place.
Reality: Children see and hear much more than we think. They are aware of the violence and the tension. Living with the fear and violence can change who they are forever.
Myth: Men who assault their partners are mentally ill or it is just anger gone out of control.
Reality: Woman abuse is not just anger out of control, the abuse is very controlled. An abuser doesn’t scream and yell or lash out at a waitress, or their boss or the neighbor. The abuse is targeted directly towards their wife or partner. Often when neighbours are interviewed after a murder/suicide they comment on what a nice guy he was. Mentally ill people would not be able to practice selective violence of this kind.
Myth: Men are just as likely as women to be victims of domestic assault.
Reality: More than 90 percent of charges involving domestic assault in Ontario are laid against men.
The facts about abuse are sobering but remember, you don’t need to be one of the statistics. Many women have overcome abuse — and with awareness, courage and support, you can too. Call us at 905-684-8331 for a listening ear and help in moving from fear to freedom.