“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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
Have difficulty concentrating.
Become exceptionally aggressive or passive.
Destroy property or be cruel to animals.
Experience eating and sleeping disruptions.
Run away from home.
Participate in alcohol or drug use
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
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
(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.
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
Divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, restraining orders, marriage certificate
Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment 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)
Check book, bank books/statements, bank cards
Driver’s license, registration, insurance
Social insurance cards
Picture of spouse/partner
Emergency money (in cash) hidden away
Emergency suitcase with immediate needs
Special toys, comforts for children
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