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Domestic Violence transcends all boundaries and stereotypes.78394739-web
It is found at all income and education levels, in all social classes,
in all religions and in all races and cultures.

Domestic abuse does not always involve physical violence. Abuse can include other forms of mistreatment and cruelty such as constant threatening, psychological/emotional, financial/material, spiritual and verbal abuse. It can also include sexual assault.  Domestic abuse results from an imbalance of power and control in a relationship.

Abuse is an attempt to control the behaviour of another person. It is a misuse of power which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the victim vulnerable. The abuser is purposefully using verbal, non-verbal or physical means to gain control over the other person. In most cases the abuser is not abusive or violent to others outside the family or home.

  • Abusers are able to control their behavior—they do it all the time.
  • Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.
  • Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior. They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you’re alone.
  • Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abusers are not out of control. In fact, they’re able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it’s to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls).
  • Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won’t show. Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks won’t show.

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 is physically battered by her partner. Domestic violence and abuse occurs in all socio-economic groups and cultural/religious backgrounds and it affects women of all ages.

Power and Control Wheel
As illustrated in the diagram below, abusers use fear, oppression, and violence to control their partners.

Power and Control wheel NO SHADING - NCDSV.indd

Getting Ready to Leave

When you are planning to leave, here are some suggestions:

  • Contact the police or a local women’s shelter. Let the staff know that you intend to leave an abusive situation and ask for support in safety planning. Ask for an officer who specializes in woman abuse cases (information shared with the police may result in charges being laid against the abuser.
  • If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask them to document your visit.
  • Gather important documents: identification, bank cards, financial papers related to family assets, last Canada Income Tax Return, keys, medication, pictures of the abuser and your children, passports, health cards, personal address/telephone book, cell phone, and legal documents (e.g. immigration papers, house deed/lease, restraining orders/peace bonds).
  • If you can’t keep these things stored in your home for fear your partner will find them, consider making copies and leave them with someone you trust. Your local women’s shelter will also keep them for you.
  • Consult a lawyer. Keep any evidence of physical abuse (such as photos). Keep a journal of all violent incidents, noting dates, events, threats and any witnesses.
  • Put together pictures, jewelry and objects of sentimental value, as well as toys and comforts for your children.
  • Arrange with someone to care for your pets temporarily, until you get settled. A shelter may help with this.
  • Remember to clear your phone of the last number you called to avoid his utilizing redial.

Leaving the Abuser

Here are some suggestions for your personal safety when you leave:

  • Request a police escort or ask a friend, neighbour or family member to accompany you when you leave.
  • Contact your local women’s shelter. It may be a safer temporary spot than going to a place your partner knows.
  • Do not tell your partner you are leaving. Leave quickly.
  • Have a back-up plan if your partner finds out where you are going.

After Leaving

Here are some actions you should take after you or your partner has left the relationship::

  • Visit the closest police station and ask to speak to an officer who specializes in woman abuse cases.
  • Consider applying for a restraining order or peace bond that may help keep your partner away from you and your children. Keep it with you at all times.
  • Provide police with a copy of any legal orders you have.
  • Consult a lawyer or legal aid clinic about actions to protect yourself or your children. Let your lawyer know if there are any Criminal Court proceedings.
  • Consider changing any service provider that you share with your ex-partner.
  • Obtain an unlisted telephone number, get caller ID and block your number when calling out.
  • Make sure your children’s school or day care centre is aware of the situation and has copies of all relevant documents. Carry a photo of the abuser and your children with you.
  • Consider applying for a restraining order or peace bond that may help keep your partner away from you and your children. Keep it with you at all times.
  • Ask your neighbours to look after your children in an emergency and to call the police if they see the abuser.
  • Take extra precautions at work, at home and in the community. Consider telling your supervisor at work about your situation.
  • Think about places and patterns that your ex-partner will know about and try to change them. For example, consider using a different grocery store or place of worship.
  • If you feel unsafe walking alone, ask a neighbour, friend or family member to accompany you.
  • Do not return to your home unless accompanied by the police. Never confront the abuser.

Technology Could Put You at Risk

Safety planning is a process that takes into account a victim/survivor’s current situation and encourages the development of strategies that help to reduce harm, minimize risks, and create a safe environment.

Technology, including everyday items such as computers and cell phones, is a crucial area to consider in safety planning. Below is a summary of a number of technology precautions to consider as outlined by Safety Net: The National Safe and Strategic Technology Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (

Information is power. Call or consult with an advocate at a domestic violence hotline to make sure your safety plan is comprehensive.

  1. Trust your instincts. If the abuser knows too much regarding your whereabouts, it is possible that your phone, computer, emails, and other activities are being tracked.
  2. Use a safe computer. When you look for help, a new place to live, etc, it may be safest to use a computer at the public library, an internet café, or community center.
  3. Create a new email account with a new password from a safe computer. Use an anonymous name and password that the abuser will not be able to guess.
  4. Change passwords and PIN numbers. Some abusers access victims’ accounts fraudulently to track them, to impersonate them, and to cause harm. Thank about any password protected accounts you may have, including: online banking, medical records, voicemail, etc. If anyone abusive knows or could guess your passwords, change them quickly and frequently.
  5. Use a donated or new cell phone. A family cell phone plan produces billing records and phone logs that might reveal your plans. Local domestic violence programs have information about new cell phones and prepaid phone cards.
  6. Check your cell phone settings. If you are using a cell phone provided by the abuser, turn it off when not in use. Phones can be set to automatically answer without your knowing, in effect becoming a speaker. Most newer phones have GPS which makes them capable of tracking you.
  7. Minimize use of cordless phones and baby monitors. These act like speakers and can be monitored. A traditional corded phone is more secure.
  8. Ask about your records and data. Many court systems and government records are published online. Ask agencies how your records can be protected, restricted, or sealed.
  9. Get a private mailbox and do not give your real physical address. When asked by businesses, doctors and others for your address, have a private mailbox or PO box. Try to keep your residential address out of national databases. Many states, including Massachusetts, have the Address Confidentiality Program that can help you protect your actual address and is valid for legal documents.
  10. Search for your name and your phone number online. Major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and have links to your contact information including satellite photos of your address. Search your name in quotation marks: “Full Name.” Do the same with your telephone number. Also, check phone directory pages because unlisted numbers may have been published if the number has been given to anyone.
  11. Consider taking down your social networking pages such as MySpace, Facebook, etc. Information posted on these sites can compromise your safety through photos that reveal your local and through friends your abuser knows who link to your social site.
  12. Consider closing your chain store, auto repair, oil change, or other service discount cards. The information they track is put on searchable databases which a tech savvy abuser may be able to hack into. Often a clerk will allow you to use their card so you can still get the savings.

Facts About Domestic Violence:

  • On average, every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. In 2009, 67 women were murdered by a current or former spouse or boyfriend.
  • On any given day in Canada, more than 3,000 women (along with their 2,500 children) are living in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence.
  • Each year, over 40,000 arrests result from domestic violence—that’s about 12% of all violent crime in Canada.  Since only 22% of all incidents are reported to the police, the real number is much higher.
  • 1 in 4 women have experienced some form of domestic violence at some point in their life.
  • 67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted.
  • The cost of violence against women in Canada for health care, criminal justice, social services, and lost wages and productivity has been calculated at $4.2 billion per year.