What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive and threatening behaviors perpetrated by an intimate partner or family member against another.
Domestic violence involves exercising a pattern of coercive control over a victim: using acts designed to make her subordinate and/or dependent by isolating her from sources of support, regulating her everyday behaviors, and preventing her independence or escape
Abusive behaviors may include physical violence (physical abuse, injuries), emotional violence (humiliation, threats), economic violence.
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it.
Signs of an abusive relationship
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.
There are warning signs of abuse. If you are concerned about your relationship or the relationship of someone you care about, consider these signs:
- Having a partner with a bad temper, or one who is jealous or possessive
- Being overly eager to please the abuser
- Checking in with abusive partner frequently to outline daily activities or confirm prior plans
- Frequent injuries and claiming of “accidents”
- Inconsistent attendance at work, school, or other social activities
- Excessive clothing or accessories to hide signs of physical abuse
- Low self-esteem and self-worth
- Limited access to friends, family, transportation, or money
If you or someone you know is experiencing these signs or others that may indicate abuse, talk to someone. If you are not sure if you are being abused, ask someone. If you have questions about someone being abused, ask them. You may save yourself as well as someone else.
What is stalking?
Stalking is harassment of or threatening another person, especially in a way that haunts the person physically or emotionally in a repetitive and devious manner. Stalking of an intimate partner can take place during the relationship, with intense monitoring of the partner’s activities. Or stalking can take place after a partner or spouse has left the relationship. The stalker may be trying to get their partner back, or they may wish to harm their partner as punishment for their departure. Regardless of the fine details, the victim fears for their safety. Stalking can take place at or near the victim’s home, near or in their workplace, on the way to the store or another destination, or on the Internet (cyberstalking). Stalking can be on the phone, in person, or online. Stalkers may never show their face, or they may be everywhere, in person.
Stalkers employ a number of threatening tactics:
- repeated phone calls, sometimes with hang-ups
- following, tracking (possibly even with a global positioning device)
- finding the person through public records, online searching, or paid investigators
- suddenly showing up where the victim is, at home, school, or work
- contacting the victim’s friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to find out about the victim
Stalking is unpredictable and should always be considered dangerous. If someone is tracking you, contacting you when you do not wish to have contact, attempting to control you, or frightening you, then seek help immediately.
What is cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is the use of telecommunication technologies such as the Internet or email to stalk another person. Cyberstalking may be an additional form of stalking, or it may be the only method the abuser employs. Cyberstalking is deliberate, persistent, and personal.
What are the causes of domestic abuse or domestic violence?
A strong predictor of domestic violence in adulthood is domestic violence in the household in which the person was reared. For instance, a child’s exposure to their father’s abuse of their mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting domestic violence from one generation to the next. This cycle of domestic violence is difficult to break because parents have presented violence as the norm.
Individuals living with domestic violence in their households have learned that violence and mistreatment are the way to vent anger. Someone resorts to physical violence because:
- they have solved their problems in the past with violence,
- they have effectively exerted control and power over others through violence, and
- no one has stopped them from being violent in the past.
Where to get help?
Dial 911 in an emergency or call the Family Violence Information Line at 310-1818 (toll-free) for information and resources.
Bullying Help Line: 1-888-456-2323
Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-387-KIDS (5437)
Child Disability Resource Link: 1-866-346-4661
Family Violence Info Line: 310-1818 (toll-free, open 24 hours per day)
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Parent Information Line: 1-866-714-KIDS (5437)
Financial Supports for Albertans Fleeing Abuse
Funding is available to help people get to safety, set up a new household or start a new life.
For more information, call the 24-hour contact centre at 1‑866‑644‑5135 (toll free) or 780‑644‑5135 (Edmonton area).
Sexual Assault Centres
Also known as rape crisis centres, sexual assault centres provide a safe place for healing to begin for those who have been victimized, both female and male. Services include:
Crisis intervention counselling (individual and group)
Education and awareness programs aimed at prevention, and
Advocacy and support (accompany survivours through the justice and health systems, help navigate the various services available, etc.).
For more information, contact the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services at 403‑237‑6905