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Domestic Violence

KCWA Family and Social Services is a non-profit organization established in 1985 by a group of women who were concerned with women and family issues and serves women, men, senior and youth all of them.

What is Domestic Violence?

“Domestic Violence” refers to abusive behaviour in an intimate, kinship, or dependent relationship and is also known as wife abuse, spouse abuse, family violence, and partner assault.

Abusive behaviour is not limited to physical violence and is rarely an isolated, random event. It is a relentless terror that also strikes against the emotional, financial, sexual, and spiritual zones of life.

At the heart of domestic violence is the issue of power and control. Using one or a combination of tactics, the batterer asserts authority and creates debilitating fear as a means of controlling, intimidating, coercing, and dominating the survivor.

Types of Abuse

PHYSICAL: Any unwanted physical force, touch, or contact

  • Pushing, grabbing, strangling, pulling hair

  • Slapping, punching, kicking, choking, pinching

  • Burning, biting, scratching, stabbing, cutting

  • Restraining you physically, confinement, twisting limbs

  • Use of weapons or objects to harm or injure

Emotional / Psychological / Verbal

Although this type of abuse is difficult to define, emotional abuse involves a broad spectrum of behaviours and tactics targeting the self-confidence, independence, and perception of a person without the use of any direct physical violence. It is a psychological terror that is the most pervasive and destructive form of abuse for it can occur independent of or accompany the other forms of abuse.

  • Communicating to a person that he or she is useless or inferior; devaluing his/her thoughts and feelings

  • Insulting, ridiculing, mocking, humiliating, name calling, imitating and infantilizing

  • Stalking; destruction of a person’s valued property, possessions, and pets; attacks on and/or insults against family, friends, loved ones

  • Physical confinement; restricting social contact with friends, family, and others

  • Failing to provide care in a sensitive and responsive manner; being detached and uninvolved


Interfering with an individual’s financial independence through partial to complete control of the person’s finances.

  • Denies access to cash, bank accounts, employment income, inheritance

  • Not given a say in how money is spent

  • Credit cards are used without permission

  • Information to one’s own financial records, investments, assets, and debts are withheld or denied.

  • Controls where and when one is employed


Any form of unwanted and non-consensual sexual activity, touch, contact or behaviour.

  • Rape

  • Coerced performance and participation in disliked sexual acts

  • Sexual name calling, treatment as a sex object

  • Ridiculing and insulting the body and/or body parts

  • Forced pregnancies or abortions

  • Inappropriate touching, violations of personal space

  • Forced to watch pornography

  • Harassment for sex or withholding/refusal of sex


Violating an individual’s right to choose and exercise one’s own religious belief.

  • Degrading or attacking religious beliefs

  • Prohibited from practicing one’s faith

  • Barred from attending the religious setting of choice

  • Forced compliance to a faith or religious tradition

  • Manipulative use of scripture against him or her

  • Bringing up past sins

  • Saying that God does not care/love him or her

Children Witnessing Violence

Children living in homes experiencing domestic violence will be undeniably affected. Just as healthy homes produce healthy children, stressful homes produce children experiencing and manifesting various forms of stress.

Exposure to an abusive environment will produce some common long-term effects in children although each child will be uniquely affected. The following material adapted from the Family Violence Law Center and the Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse outlines several factors determining the impact of violence on a child and the assorted symptoms that may indicate violence in the home.


  • Their understanding of the experience (influenced by their age).

  • How they have learned to survive and cope with the stress created by domestic abuse.

  • Their personality.

  • Additional stresses in their life.

  • The availability of support through friends, relatives, and adults in their life.

  • Their ability to accept support and assistance from adults.

  • Effective intervention.


Emotional: Children from violent homes may…

  • Feel guilty for the abuse and for not stopping it.

  • Have conflicting feelings toward the parents.

  • Experience fear of abandonment, the unknown, or of personal injury.

  • Feel angry about the violence and chaos in their lives.

  • Become depressed, feeling helpless and powerless (signs of low self-esteem).

Perceptual: Children from violent homes may…

  • Believe that they, the child, are responsible for the violence.

  • Blame others for their own behaviour

  • Believe that it is acceptable to hit people to get what they want, to express anger, to feel powerful, or to get others to meet their needs.

  • Not trust others.

Behavioural: Children from violent homes may…

  • Have difficulty concentrating.

  • Be clingy.

  • Become exceptionally aggressive or passive.

  • Destroy property or be cruel to animals.

  • Experience eating and sleeping disruptions.

  • Run away from home.

  • Be suicidal.

  • Participate in alcohol or drug use

Social: Children from violent homes may…

  • Be isolated from friends and relatives.

  • Have poor conflict resolution and anger management skills.

  • Become excessively involved in social activities (to avoid home life).

  • Engage in exploitative relationships either as a perpetrator or victim

Physical: Children from violent homes may…

  • Complain about headaches, stomach-aches, etc. (frequent illnesses).

  • Seem anxious and have a short attention span (may be misdiagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

  • Be tired or lethargic.

  • Seem desensitized to pain.

  • Abuse or mutilate themselves

Safety Planning

(Adapted from Creating a Safety Plan, The Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse.)
It is important to know that although the survivor does not have control over the batterer’s violence, it is possible and absolutely necessary to increase their safety. The overwhelming experience of violence is reduced when safety plans are established and well-rehearsed in advance of further violence. This is even truer when the survivor is supported by friends, family, co-workers, and community members in the planning and implementation of safety action steps.

Photocopy the following items and store in a safe place, away from the originals. If possible, hide the originals someplace else.

  • Passports, birth certificates, and immigration papers for all family members

  • School and vaccination records

  • Driver’s license and registration

  • Medications, prescriptions, medical records for all family members

  • Welfare identification

  • Work permits

  • Divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, restraining orders, marriage certificate

  • Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book

  • Bank books

  • Insurance papers

  • Address/telephone book

  • Picture of spouse/partner

  • Health cards for yourself and family members

  • All cards you normally use (e.g. Visa, phone, SIN card, bank card)

Try to keep the wallet and purse handy, and containing the following:

  • Car/house/office keys

  • Check book, bank books/statements, bank cards

  • Driver’s license, registration, insurance

  • Social insurance cards

  • Health cards

  • Phone cards

  • Credit cards

  • Address/telephone book

  • Picture of spouse/partner

  • Emergency money (in cash) hidden away

Keep the following items handy, so you can grab them quickly:

  • Emergency suitcase with immediate needs

  • Special toys, comforts for children

  • Jewelry

  • Small saleable objects

  • Items of special sentimental value

  • _enA list of others items you would like to take if you get a chance to come back to your home later