Family Violence is defined as any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse through the use of assaultive and controlling behavior. The pattern of abuse may include:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Criminal harassment (stalking)
- Threats to harm children, other family members, pets, and property
The violence is used to intimidate, humiliate or frighten a partner of an intimate relationship, or to make them powerless.
Intimate Relationship is defined as between opposite-sex or same-sex partners. These relationships vary in duration and legal formality, and include:
- Current and former dating relationships
- Current and former common-law relationships
- Current and former married relationships
- Persons who are the parents of one or more children, regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time
Family violence is also commonly referred to as:
- Family Conflict
- Spousal abuse
- Spousal assault
- Intimate partner abuse
- Intimate partner assault
- Relationship abuse
Family Violence Information Sheet
- Family Violence is the abuse between couples
- In Canada the health related cost of domestic violence against women is 1.15 billion dollars per year including medical and psychiatric costs
- Family Violence isolates children, damages self-esteem and can spawn psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt and suicidal tendencies. Growing up in a violent home can lead some people to turn against their own children when they become parents, or to abuse their adult partners
- Family violence can have a devastating effect upon the victim, families and children who witness or live with the consequences of that violence
- Family Violence is learned behaviour
- The victim's behaviour is often a way of ensuring survival
- Victims of violence may even initiate violence in an effort to get imminent violence over with, as a reaction to past abuse, or to deflect the abuse away from children
- Leaving an abusive relationship is a process, not an event
- A person who is being abused may endure the abuse for a long time before seeking support but the majority of abuse is never reported; 80% of women in shelters have no plans to report the abuse to police
- There are 7 types of abuse in Abusive Relationships: Physical, Sexual, Financial, Emotional, Psychological, Spiritual and Threat of Abandonment and they are used to intimidate, humiliate or frighten a partner or make them feel powerless
- Emotional Abuse is commonly defined as the systematic tearing down of another human being and is based on power and control over another person. It is harder to define and diagnose and is a behaviour which diminishes the other person's identity, dignity, self-worth and perception
- Emotional abuse often accompanies other forms of abuse but may also occur alone
- Children who see a parent being abused are also victims of emotional abuse
- Physical Abuse is the most visible form of abuse but is often dismissed as frequent accidents or clumsiness
- The longer the physical abuse continues the more serious the injuries become and the more difficult it is to eliminate the abusive behaviour. This is called escalation.
Children Are Affected by Family Violence and Might...
Internalize by: Hyperactive or lethargic behaviour, being overly sensitive, have poor concentration, withdraw into self, be depressed, feel sad, feel unworthy, blame self for family problems, be very compliant, get good grades, suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, have stomach aches/headaches/sleep problems, have anxiety or panic attacks, have trouble keeping or getting along with friends, have self-destructive thoughts or actions.
Externalize by: Physical or verbally aggressive, complain of pains when moving or being touched, have difficulty getting along with others, insensitive to others, easily distractible, hyper, feel angry most of the time, feel rage, brag excessively, blame others, Conduct Disorder, Post traumatic Stress Disorder
What You Can Do
If are being abused: Remember you are not alone, that it is not your fault, you should talk to a professional or to someone you trust, find help and access community resources.
If you are an outsider: Listen to the person who's been abused, believe this person, support them, inform them of available services in their community and hotlines, report suspected child abuse or neglect to a child welfare agency.
Help is Available
For more information, please call Vancouver & Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society at 604-436-1025. .
Vancouver & Lower Mainland Multicultural Family Support Services Society (VLMFSS) offers information in regard to all types of abuse, available resources and safety plans. Our services and resources are confidential and free of charge. For inquiries call our office Mon - Fri between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm at 604-436-1025.
The Patterns of Abuse
- As your partner got to know you better, did they lose their temper more often?
- Did your partner strike or throw objects, and then seek forgiveness from you claiming such actions were out of character?
- Did they begin to criticize you for trivial things?
- Were you accused of trying to irritate them?
- Were your outside friends carefully monitored?
- Would an innocent glance or dance trigger a jealous rage and attempts to restrict your contact with others?
- Do you feel like a prisoner in your own home?
Physical abuse may follow verbal abuse, especially if you defend yourself. You may be confused as to what to do since they often apologize for their behavior and promise never to hurt you again. Though enjoyable, these honeymoon-like periods of remorse don't last long because your partner is an emotionally disturbed person attempting to act normally. You will eventually be forced to make some very serious decisions when it becomes obvious they are simply unable or unwilling to control themselves.
You must honestly judge the future of your relationship, bearing in mind your partner is convinced their feelings, words, and actions are justified. They likely believe your relationship would run smoothly if you let them take charge of your life.
Your partner's words and actions are strongly influenced by powerful emotions over which they have little control.
Such people often abuse alcohol and drugs, have very serious personality problems, and have witnessed violence in their early years. As they may have been a victim of abuse as well, change is unlikely unless they obtain counseling to address these issues. Though they need to be encouraged to move in this direction, you may be the last person they will listen to. They may even feel compelled to do the opposite of what is being asked regardless of the consequences.
How to Leave an Abusive Partner
Most of us prefer to love and be loved within a relationship. Sadly, our need for affection, friendship and security can cloud our judgment when abuse has crept into the relationship.
It's time to think about these questions. Your escape plan will depend on the answers.
- Where will you live and how will you support yourself?
- When and how will you let your partner know you are leaving?
- If there are children involved, what will you say to them?
- If there are weapons, what can you do about them?
- Will Social Services, the Police and or Legal Aid help you?
- Do you know how to obtain a Restraining Order/Peace Bond?
- What support is available from the local Mental Health Clinic?
- Will someone help you move your belongings?
After You Leave
After you have left, don't allow yourself to be manipulated by expressions of affection without concrete actions. Your leaving may persuade the person to take responsibility for their conduct. If you see consistent change and believe there is hope, have them arrange individual or marital counselling.
Ending relationships, even abusive ones, has serious emotional consequences. Join a support group if available. Since abuse damages self-esteem you may have come to believe your situation is hopeless, and escape impossible. With support and consistent effort you are capable of building a bridge over the gap separating you from the life you deserve.
Tips for victims of Stalking, Harassment and/or Domestic Violence
- Try to avoid a situation that will escalate in abuse by leaving when you 1st begin to suspect that things are going to get out of control
- Don't run to where the children are as this may put them in danger as well.
- Know where the nearest phone is; whether it is a cell phone or a neighbour’s phone. Keep your cell phone charged even if you do not have minutes; this is so that you can call 911.
- Plan what to do if your partner learns of your plans to leave from the children or some other way.
- Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway, keeping a full tank of gas.
- Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you
- Create plausible excuses for leaving the house at different times of the day or night
- Keep a journal of all violent incidences noting dates, events, threats made, if possible. Use an Incident and Behaviour Log.
When you leave or if you do not live together
- Rent a private post office box but be aware that your address does appear on restraining orders & police reports
- Be careful who you give your new address and phone number to and ask that they do not store the information in address books, rolodex or on computer devices
- Don't get subscriptions sent to your home address, use the PO Box instead
- Put your PO Box on your Driver's License & don't show it to just anyone
- Consider changing your children's school
- Reschedule appointments that the offender is aware of
- Use different stores & frequent different social spots
- Call the phone company & request caller ID. Ask that your phone number be blocked so if you call anyone they cannot see your new number
- Avoid calling 800, 888 or 900 numbers as your phone number will be captured on an Automatic Number Identification service and will appear on their phone bill. If you must call toll free, try to use a pay phone.
- Have your name removed from all reverse directories
- Avoid using your middle initial as it can help identify you from a list of people with your name
- Don't put your name on the list of tenants on the front of the building where you live
- Be very protective of your Social Insurance Number as it is a key to much of your personal information
- Alert the 2 credit bureaus Equifax (1-800-465-7166 and Trans Union (1-800-663-9980) of your situation. Ask them to flag your records to avoid fraudulent access
- If you are having problems with harassing phone calls, phone your service provider to discuss the different options you can use to screen or record your calls. Information is also available in your phone book.
- Change your e-mail address
- Consider getting professional counselling and/or seek help from a victims support group. They can help you deal with fear, anxiety & depression
If you stay and he/she leaves
- Install solid core doors with dead bolts
- Change all the locks and install locks on the windows
- If residing in an apartment with an on-site manager, inform him/her of your situation and provide a photo of the suspect
Incident and Behaviour Log
- A stalking log should be used to record & document all related behaviours including harassing phone calls, letters, e-mails, vandalism & threats communicated directly or through 3rd parties.
- When reporting incidents to law enforcement, always write down the officer's name and badge number for your own records. Even if they do not make an arrest you can ask them to do a written report and give you a copy for your records
- As your log can be introduced as evidence in the future do not include information you do not want the offender to see
- Do not tell the offender about the log and do not tell others where it is kept
- Attach a photo of the offender, any restraining orders, police reports and other relevant documents.