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The Types of Abuse

Physical: hitting, punching, beating, slapping, shoving, pulling hair, use of weapons, spitting on you, biting, mutilation, burning, murder.

Sexual: any forced sexual contact ranging from unwanted touching to sexual forced acts, harassment.

Verbal: threats, insults, name-calling, unjust blaming and accusing, swearing, shouting, and accusing you of cheating.

Psychological/Emotional: withholding love, sympathy or understanding, inadequate physical or emotional care, isolation (keeping you away from friends and family), intimidation, extreme jealousy, destroying property, threatening to commit suicide, and threatening to take children away.

Financial: stealing, withholding money and/or denying access to employment opportunities, preventing access to household financial information

Spiritual: belittling a person’s spiritual beliefs or preventing them from attending the church, synagogue or temple of their choice

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.”

One out of every four Canadian women will suffer some type of abuse during her lifetime and every year, one in 10 Canadian women are physically battered by their partners. Domestic violence and abuse occurs in all socio-economic groups and cultural/religious backgrounds and it affects women of all ages.

Each year, Statistics Canada releases a document called Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile. Find it at http://www.statcan.ca/english/freepub/85-224-XIE/free.htm


The 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…

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

Violent episode: 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.

Honeymoon stage: Following a violent episode the abuser is usually contrite and attentive; the victim once again recognizes the person she first fell in love with and may be inclined to believe their partner’s promises to change.

Unless there is some form of intervention, the cycle usually repeats itself with the violent episodes escalating in frequency and intensity.