Impact of abuse

Young black woman smilingWe hear about abuse in the media, but it can be hard to connect the dots when it is happening to you.

Sometimes, the woman is so confused and upset, she doesn’t understand that what is happening to her is called “abuse”.   Emotions can be so overwhelming, it is hard for women to translate into words, to calmly analyze what is happening to her.

Initially, staying silent is easier than telling someone

Staying silent is not an active decision.  Sometimes staying silent is comforting because it helps the woman distance herself from her memories. Women fear that people will judge her and think its her fault, or that she had been foolish.  The pattern of behaviour could have started “innocently” but has continued to escalate – where does she draw the line?Eventually, telling someone places the stigma on the abusers – where it belongs.

Not all women feel they can leave their abusers

There are many visible and invisible barriers: isolation from family and friends, loss of self worth, financial dependence, not understanding the law.  Making the decision to go to the police, will change her life forever — that takes courage.

The most dangerous time for a women is when she is leaving her partner or shortly after she has left.  One-third of the women assaulted while still with their partner, feared being killed at some point. (Springtide Resources)

Abuse is about power and control – regardless of race, culture, religion, education, addictions or wealth

Sometimes, drugs and alcohol allow an abuser to overcome his inhibitions and resort to violence.  Drugs and alcohol are not the cause of abuse and should never be used as an excuse.

In Canada, 1 in 2 women have experienced abuse in a trust relationship (Statistics Canada)


Victims of abuse do not necessarily become abusers

Many people raised in violent homes do not become abusers.  Using violence and coercion in a relationship is a choice someone makes.  It is a pattern of behaviour that they have learned.  It is their “default mode” when under stress.  Abusers need to learn new patterns of behaviour.  But it is not your job to teach them.  It is your job to look after yourself and your children.

Does abuse happen in same-sex relationships?

Unequal power and control can occur in any relationship.  If the relationship is secret, coercion includes threats like outing to family  and co-workers, fear of homophobia.  If the relationship is public, a woman might fear that no one will believe her because her partner is not a man.

Concern about shaming the family

Families tend to keep secrets: woman abuse, incest, child abuse, domestic disputes, elder abuse.  Secrets hurt.

Women with disabilities are even more vulnerable

Women with disabilities experience similar types of abuse to what other women do.  They have additional vulnerabilities related to care-givers and the medical system.