Abusive Relationships

Abuse or violence in a relationship is a pattern of behavior that one person uses against another to intimidate them and to get them to do what they want.  It comes in forms such as:

Emotional Abuse

This is when your partner puts you down, ignores you or calls you names. He/she may want you to stop spending time with your friends and questions you on every detail on what you’ve done without him/her. Your partner may use jealousy or anger to intimidate you or to control your behavior, or he/she might deliberately humiliate you in front of others. Your partner might try to manipulate you and make you feel wrong, inadequate or like you’re crazy. Another form of emotional abuse is when your partner threatens to hurt him/herself or other people if you break up with him/her. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse.

Physical Abuse

This involves acts such as hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, pulling hair, choking or threatening to harm you in any way.  It could involve using a weapon or an object to threaten or hurt you, smashing things or driving a car dangerously to threaten you. Hurting someone physically or threatening to hurt them is a criminal offence. 53% of female victims of violent crime experienced the violence by a past or current partner (Statistics Canada, 2007).

Sexual Abuse

This is when your partner uses force, threats or coercion to obtain sex or sexual acts. Sexual abuse can also include your partner not respecting your privacy when undressing, going to the washroom or taking a shower. Sexual abuse can be applied within the context of marriage under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Financial Abuse

This is quite common and is one of the primary reasons that a partner may remain in the relationship. Financial abuse can include your partner interfering with or not letting you work, withholding or taking money, and denying you access to a car or other services. Financial abuse is another form of control that is used to keep you in the relationship.

What Can You Do If You Think You Are In An Abusive Relationship? 

Talk to someone you trust. Disclosing the abuse to someone you feel will be supportive can provide you with another person in your life who understands what you are going through.

Consider breaking off your relationship if you think your partner is abusive. Make sure you have a safe place to stay, such as a shelter, or a friend’s place that your partner does not know about.

Make a safety plan if you are thinking about leaving your partner. A safety plan consists of preparing an emergency bag (clothes, money, ID, keys, important documents) and establishing an escape plan. Things to consider in an escape plan are the safest time to leave home, the best place to leave from (work, school, a friend’s house), transportation to your safe place, and the first person who needs to be called.

Consider reporting the incident to the Police or to Protective Services. Choosing to report may or may not be important to you, or you may fear retaliation from your partner should you choose to report. Physical assault is a crime under the Criminal Code of Canada and is also a violation of the University’s Code of Student Behavior and therefore should be reported to the Police and/or Protective Services.

Consider calling one of the shelters or Sexual Assault Centers listed on the back page for more information. Shelters provide non-judgmental counseling and a safe place for women fleeing violent partnerships.

Relationship Warning Signs

If you answer “Yes” to any of the questions below, you could be in an abusive relationship, or your relationship could become abusive.

  • Do you feel nervous around your partner?
  • Do you have to be careful to control your behavior to avoid your partner’s anger?
  • Do you feel pressured by your partner when it comes to sex?
  • Are you scared of disagreeing with your partner?
  • Does your partner criticize or humiliate you in front of other people?
  • Is your partner always checking up on you or questioning you about what you do without him/her?
  • Does your partner repeatedly and wrongly accuse you of seeing other people?
  • Does your partner tell you that if you changed he/she wouldn’t abuse you?
  • Does your partner’s jealousy stop you from seeing your family and friends?
  • Does your partner make you feel like you’re wrong, stupid or inadequate?
  • Has your partner ever scared you with violence or threatening behavior?
  • Do you often do things to please your partner, rather than please yourself?
  • Does your partner prevent you from going out or doing things you want to do?
  • Do you feel that, with your partner, nothing you do is good enough?
  • Does your partner say that he/she will kill or hurt themselves if you break up with them?
  • Does your partner make excuses for his/her abusive behavior by saying that it’s because of alcohol or drugs or because he/she can’t control his/her temper, or that he/she was just joking?