Indicators of Abuse

Am I Being Abused?

If you are not sure if you are being abused, take a look at these examples, and answer Yes or No to yourself

  • My partner pushes and shoves me
  • My partner calls me names
  • My partner grabs/slaps me and pulls my hair
  • My partner makes me have sex when I don’t want to
  • My partner uses verbal and non-verbal sexual expressions (inappropriate body language, gestures, suggestions, requests and threats)
  • My partner controls all the money
  • My partner yells at me in an abusive manner
  • My partner humiliates me in public or private by calling me names, put-downs, embarrassing me
  • My partner prevents me from visiting my family & friends
  • My partner threatens to take the children away if I leave
  • My partner continually criticizes me
  • My partner prevents me from going to work
  • My partner threatens physical violence
  • My partner uses violent behavior (punches holes in the wall, breaks dishes or household furnishings)
  • My partner isolates me from the community and social gatherings
  • My partner uses weapons or objects to apply force on me
  • My partner keeps me from leaving the house
  • My partner locks me out of the house
  • My partner destroys things that belong to me

If you answered YES to even one of the above questions, you ARE being abused

Checklist for Abuse:

  • Holding someone to keep them from leaving
  • Pushing, shoving, slapping, biting, kicking or choking
  • Locking someone out of the house
  • Abandoning someone in dangerous places
  • Subjecting someone to reckless driving
  • Forcing sex upon another person
  • Committing sadistic sexual acts
  • Forcing someone to watch sexual acts
  • Threatening or hurting someone with a weapon
  • Threatening to harm someone’s children, property or pets
  • Ignoring someone’s feelings
  • Ridiculing someone’s beliefs, feelings, religion, race, sex, heritage or class
  • Withholding approval or affection as punishment
  • Continually criticizing someone, calling them names, shouting at them
  • Insulting someone in public
  • Keeping another from working
  • Refusing to work or share money
  • Taking car keys or money away
  • Regularly threatening to leave or telling someone to leave
  • Telling someone of affairs to hurt them
  • Harassing someone about imagined affairs

What is Abuse?

Abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, psychological, and economic. Abuse is any verbal or physical act using threat or physical force in order to induce fear and thereby control a person’s behavior. Underlying all abuse is a power imbalance between the victim and the offender. Any form of abuse can be devastating to a woman and can serve to erode her self-esteem and self-confidence. Abuse affects women of all cultures, ages, educational levels, socio-economic backgrounds and sexual orientation.

It is crucial to understand that an abused woman is in no way responsible for the abuse. An abuser is responsible for his/her own behavior and chooses to use tactics which will maintain control in the relationship. Abuse is repeated behavior and usually escalates. It can and often does result in permanent injury or death. The most dangerous time for a woman is when she is attempting to leave the relationship or after she has left.

(From Study Guide: Finding our voice)

“Freedom from abuse is every person’s basic right. Under section 266 of the Criminal Code of Canada it is against the law for anyone to abuse their spouse, common law partner, or boyfriend/girlfriend.”

Abuse can happen to any woman; it can happen in any family…we are all potential victims.

We cannot change the past

But we can act today

To change the future


Warning Signs of Abusive Behavior

  • Is your partner jealous, getting angry or upset if you even talk to another person?
  • Does he/she want you to spend ALL of your free time with him/her, making attempts to keep you away from family and friends, especially those who are particularly close to you?
  • Does your partner tell you where you can and can’t go, who you can and can’t spend time with, what clothes to wear?
  • Does he/she compare you unfavorably to other people?
  • Do you know what his/her upbringing was like? Was there abuse in the family? In particular, did your partners’ father abuse his/her mother?
  • Do you know whether your partner was abusive in other relationships?
  • How does he/she talk about the other people he/she has been in a relationship with? Does your partner call them names; blame them for all of the problems in the relationship?
  • Does he/she contact you several times a day to check in with you, keeping tabs on your whereabouts?
  • How does your partner react to stress or frustration? How does he/she react when he/she gets angry? Does your partner blame you or others even when it seems obvious that the problem is his or hers?
  • Does your partner make a lot of jokes or put women down a lot?
  • Does he/she get angry over little things such as being a few minutes late?
  • Does he/she talk a lot about being tough or macho?
  • Does your partner respect your opinions and your preferences or is he/she always right and does he/she make all the decisions? Does your partner try to change your mind to his or her way of thinking?
  • Will your partner talk about a disagreement and try to work it out or does he/she get angry, insist he/she is right and refuse to negotiate?
  • Has your partner ever threatened you in any way?
  • Have you ever felt afraid of your partner, even for a little while?

Some of these are forms of abuse in themselves and can lead to persistent patterns of violence. If you have concerns, you should explore them further. Set limits and boundaries. If they are not respected, you need to step back and look at the situation before proceeding with the relationship.