Understanding Abuse

What Is Abuse?

Abuse is a systematic pattern of behaviour used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, and may include the threat or use of violence.

Any one or more of the following behaviours indicates abuse:

Physical Abuse:

This often begins with what is excused as trivial contacts – which then escalate into more frequent and serious attacks.  This would include: shoving, slapping, punching, choking, biting, pinching, hair-pulling, refusing you medical help when sick, throwing objects at you, abandoning you in unsafe places, and damaging property.

Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that make others aware of the problem.

Although physical assaults may occur only occasionally, they instill fear of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to control the woman’s life and circumstances.  Finally these episodes can escalate to life-threatening behaviours such as choking, breaking bones or the use of weapons.

Sexual Abuse:

Physical attack by an abuser is often accompanied by, or culminates in sexual violence where the woman is forced to have sexual intercourse with her abuser or take part in unwanted sexual activity.

Any unwanted sexual activity is sexual abuse.

Psychological/Emotional Abuse:

Psychological and emotional abuse are as damaging as physical abuse, especially to a woman’s sense of self-esteem.  These forms of abuse can include:

  • excessive possessiveness
  • threatening suicide or violence
  • threatening removal of children
  • restricting activities
  • isolation from family and friends
  • verbal insults, put-downs, name-calling
  • controlling money and decision making
  • threatening and/or harming pets