|Western Regional Coalition to End Violence
WHAT IS WOMAN / PARTNER ABUSE?
abuse is the physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse of a person by
his/her intimate partner whether they are married, common-law, or dating,
current or former relationships; or same or opposite sex couples. Spousal violence against women exists in all
communities and cuts across all socio-economic, ethno-cultural and religious
lines. While men can be victims,
research indicates the overwhelming majority are women.
1 in 4 women experience physical or
sexual violence by an intimate partner.
1 in 5 is serious enough to involve
1 in 6 currently married women report
violence by their spouses.
1/2 of previously married women report
violence by a partner.
3/4 of women who experience violence by
a past partner endure repeated assaults, 41% on more than 10 occasions.
Between 1974 and 1992, a married woman
in Canada was nine times more likely to be killed by her spouse than by a
An average of 100 Canadian women a
year are murdered by their male partners.
Abuse: the non-accidental, willful infliction of physical pain
or injury such as slapping, kicking, punching, burning, choking, stabbing
Abuse: any form of sexual activity with a person without the
consent of that person. Sexual abuse
may include unwanted sexual touching, sexual relations without voluntary
consent, or the forcing or coercing of degrading, humiliating, or painful
Abuse: behaviour intended to control, humiliate, intimidate,
instill fear or diminish a person’s sense of self worth. This includes persistent verbal aggression,
forcing the victim to do degrading things such as eating cigarette butts or
licking the floor, forced confinement, isolation, degradation, threats, or
deliberately doing things to frighten the victim such as speeding through
traffic or playing with weapons.
Threats to harm or kill the children, other family members, pets or
prized possessions is also abuse.
Abusers may also threaten to remove, hide, or prevent access to
Abuse/Financial Exploitation: exerting control of
the victim’s financial resources without consent, withholding the resources
necessary for basic physical necessities such as food, clothing, children’s
diapers, adequate housing, personal care and medication.
WOMEN STAY IN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS?
1. Fear for herself and others: Many
women fear that the abuse will get worse if they leave. They fear that their
partner will carry out threats he has made, such as hurting the children or
other family members.
2. Hope: Many women still love their
partner and hope that he will change. Their partner may promise to change and
the relationship may in fact get better for a time, so they believe they have
good reasons to hope.
3. The children: Women often feel they would be hurting their
children by depriving them of a father’s presence and the things his income may
provide for them.
4. Lack of energy: Abused women are
drained by constant stress. They may also be periodically incapacitated by
injuries or live with chronic pain from a history of injuries. As a result they
often feel immobilized, barely able to cope with the day-to-day demands of
children, work and household management.
5. Low self-esteem: Abused women
have low self-esteem and little self-confidence. They don’t think they are
important enough for their safety to matter. They don’t believe any man better
than their partner would ever love them.
6. Financial reasons: Some women feel they won’t be able to
support themselves or their family. They may not have the skills or the
confidence needed to seek and obtain employment. They may have to leave with
nothing more than their clothes if their partner controls all the finances. For
many women there is a stigma associated with social assistance and they rightly
fear the difficulty of supporting their children.
7. Advice from others: Family and friends often pressure women to
stay and make the marriage work. Counselors may recommend better communication
skills, while doctors may prescribe tranquilizers to help with the stress. Such
friends and helping professionals have failed to perceive the abuse as a
problem that the woman can solve. Others may not even acknowledge that abuse is
8. Sanctity of marriage: Women may stay in the marriage as a result
of strongly held religious and/or cultural beliefs. They believe it is the
woman’s responsibility to make the marriage successful.
9. Fear of the unknown: Battered women are afraid of what is “out
10. Emotional dependency: The victim may feel she can’t exist without
her partner. He may be the only adult
person with whom she has any emotional relationship at all, so breaking up
would mean total isolation.
11. Minimization and denial: Minimization and denial of the violence is a
survival tactic. Women have to put the abuse out of their minds in order to
care for the children, go to work, manage the household, etc. Minimization of
the violence helps the woman continue to function, but it also makes it easier
for her to stay because she is deceiving herself about the seriousness of her
12. Good times: Except in a few cases, there are usually
good aspects to the relationship. Women
stay for the positive qualities their partners have and for the “honeymoon”
periods when they are not battering.
13. No place to go: They may not have friends or family to turn
to, or they may fear that by turning to them they could put them in danger.
They may be unaware of women’s shelters in their area.
INDICATORS OF ABUSE
Bruises that don’t seem congruent with
Injuries in various stages of healing
Slow movement as if very sore
Injuries to scalp
Wearing heavy makeup
Wearing long-sleeved shirts
(especially in Summer)
Always needing ‘permission’ from
partner before engaging in an activity
Always rushing home from work
Partner calling or visiting numerous
times a day
Unexplained absences from work
Public ridicule by partner
WAYS TO HELP SOMEONE WHO IS BEING
Educate yourself on the issue of
Domestic violence is a serious crime,
not a private family matter
There is no typical abuser or victim
Call a local women’s shelter for more
Introduce the topic of domestic
Listen if she is willing to talk
Share what you know about the issue
and any reading material you may have
Do not victim-blame or minimize the
State that no one deserves to be
abused or beaten
Offer encouragement and point out
Don’t give up
Leaving an abusive partner is not as
easy as packing and walking out the door.
Leaving an abusive partner is dangerous; many women have to flee in fear
of their lives.
It is important to keep your own
self-agenda out of the way when offering support to another individual.
We each must have the right to make
our own decisions based on what we feel is right or best at the time for
ourselves. This isn’t easy to do, but
it is a must.