Abuse occurs in all walks of life. Women, children and the elderly are most often victims of family violence. Unfortunately, some attitudes, behaviours and beliefs related to family violence help perpetuate abuse. What begins with control and emotional abuse often becomes physical violence, and repeated abuse escalates in severity over time.
Violence is a serious abuse of power, trust or dependency within a relationship. It can take many forms such as emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, financial, and may include neglect, intimidation and the destruction of property and pets. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, abuse is a crime.
If any of this sounds familiar, you are in an abusive relationship. Without intervention this situation will likely intensify and worsen.
Emotional abuse is any behaviour that is designed to control another through the use of fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, manipulation and invalidation. Often, individuals affected by emotional abuse are left with the deepest and most lasting wounds. Invalidation is to reject, ignore, mock, tease, judge or diminish someone’s feelings.
All forms of invalidation are also forms of psychological attack. When individuals are confronted repeatedly with psychological attacks, survival instincts tell the individual to defend themselves through confrontation or withdrawal. If an individual continues to withdraw repeatedly, visible effects may include decreased self-esteem, decreased self-confidence and increasing feelings of powerlessness in the relationship.
Physical abuse is any act of violence against the victim. It is the most visible and lethal form of violence, with the extreme being death. Examples of physical abuse include slapping, kicking, choking, pulling hair, shoving, punching, beating, burning, throwing objects, use of weapons, restraint of any form, etc.
Threats are a form of physical abuse. When threats are made within a violent relationship, they can be as debilitating as the violence itself. Even when the victim has not been physically abused, the abuser will often demonstrate their ability to harm the individual by punching walls or doors, breaking furniture, kicking or killing family animals, destroying personal property, etc.
Psychological abuse ties in with emotional abuse. Psychological abuse is used by the abuser to wear the victim down, undermine the victim’s self-concept, and over time, cause the victim to blame themselves. Psychological and emotional abuse clears the path for physical and sexual abuse.
Examples of psychological abuse include intentionally creating feelings of guilt, silent treatment, demeaning comments, accusations, isolation (such as the abuser controlling where the victim goes), demoralizing family, friends and the individual, etc.
Sexual abuse is any kind of sexual encounter without consent and includes unwanted touching, forced sexual activity, forcing the victim to perform sexual acts, and exploitation through photography or prostitution.
Examples of sexual abuse include forcing an individual to strip, forcing the use of sex toys, forcing painful sexual positions, taking unwanted sexual photographs, forcing sex after physical abuse or assault, etc.
Economic or financial abuse occurs when the abuser denies the victim access to funds or makes the victim responsible for earning all the household income while the abuser handles the money irresponsibly.
Other examples of financial abuse include the prevention of attaining employment or education, having to account for any and all spent money, placing all the bills in the victim’s name, denying the purchase of personal hygiene products, etc.
The destruction of property is when someone destroys your personal belongings, property or pets. This is meant to instill fear, particularly about your own personal safety. Many women have told us that when their partners destroy their property or hurt their pets, the terrifying experience sends them a message signifying they’re next. All types of abuse are damaging and can have serious effects on a person.
If you think you are being abused, you are not alone and you are not to blame. You cannot control the violence. We can help.
Abuse happens in all walks of life, for all types of reasons. Circumstances of abuse often start small and grow in intensity and frequency. Remember, abuse is never your fault. However, there are key things you should watch out for to help keep yourself, and your children, out of harm’s way. The following list of questions will help you identity the warning signs and hopefully encourage you to seek help should you discover that you’re in an abusive relationship.
Do you think you are being abused? Call us, you are not alone:
Iris Kirby House, St. John’s Site:
O’Shaughnessy House, Carbonear Site:
Violence Prevention Initiative of the Province of Newfoundland & Labrador
The first step is often the most difficult. If nothing is done, the abuse will not stop. Help is available. Recognize that no one has the right to control you and that it is everyone’s human right to live without fear.
If you want help in creating a safety plan, please call us: 1-877-753-1492.