Does your spouse or partner ever...
`Threaten to hurt you or your children? `Refuse to let you have contact with your family or friends? `Throw things or destroy your personal belongings? `Accuse you of having affairs? `Tell you that you're stupid, fat, ugly or call you names? `Blame you and tell you that you are the cause of all the problems? `Say you never do anything right? `Abandon you, leave you places or lock you out? `Take or hide your keys, important papers, or your mail? `Forbid you to work or to give you money for things you need for yourself or child? `Force you into unwanted sexual practices? `Hit, kick, shove, grab, or shake you or your children, or generally react to problems in a violent manner?
If you answer "yes" to any of the above questions, you are in an abusive relationship. Please read on ....
CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
Abuse in a relationship is any act used to gain power and control over another person. Some methods of abuse used to control the partner are:
- ISOLATION - Limiting or controlling where you go, who you see and talk to.
- EMOTIONAL ABUSE - Putting you down, calling you names, playing mind games.
- SEXUAL ABUSE - making you do sexual acts against your will, physically attacking the sexual parts of your body.
- ECONOMIC ABUSE - Trying to keep you from getting a job, making you ask for money, taking your money or not giving you money needed for yourself or the children.
- THREATS - making threats to hurt you, to take the children, to report you to welfare, to commit suicide or kill you if you leave.
- INTIMIDATION - Putting you in fear by using looks, actions, gestures, yelling or destroying property.
- BLAMING/DENYING - saying that you caused the abuse, saying that it didn't happen or making light of the abuse.
Once the violence occurs, the chances are great that it will occur again, unless there is some kind of intervention. Abusers must learn to accept responsibility for their behaviour. This is only possible with outside help.
HELP FOR THE ABUSER
There are several programs available for abusers. The Spring's Family Violence Intervention Program is available to determine if treatment is necessary.
A victim of Abuse:
`Becomes gradually isolated from family and friends. `Has hope that the abuser will change. `Believes the violence won't happen again. `Accepts blame for the abuse, tries hard to "make things right". `Blames abuser's behaviour on alcohol/drug use, or bad childhood. `Develops low self-esteem. `Has feelings of hopelessness.
Children in Violent Homes May:
`Exhibit emotional problems, excessive crying, or be withdrawn or shy. `Have difficulty making friends or have fear of adults. `Suffer from depression and excessive absences from school. `Use violence for solving problems at school and home. `Be at greater risk of being a runaway, being suicidal, or committing criminal acts as juveniles and adults.
Children do not have to be abused themselves in order to be impacted by violence in the home.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Consider taking any or all of the following steps which could keep you and your children safe from further violence:
- Recognize the early signs (rage, jealousy, insults, breaking things, alcohol or drug abuse, blaming you for all the problems).
- Become involved in a support group.
- Make a safety plan.
- Put aside money and clothes in case you have to leave home. Store them at a place away from the house, where you can get to them after you leave.
- Memorize the emergency phone number to a domestic abuse shelter. Or click here for more information.
- Tell someone you trust about the violence and set up a signal to get help.
- Keep important documents, like your identification, social security cards for you and your children, in a safe place.
- Have an extra key made for your car and home.
- Teach older children emergency numbers.
Abuse is rarely an isolated occurrence. It usually increases in frequency and injuries become more serious with time.
OBTAIN AN INJUNCTION FOR PROTECTION
If you are a victim of violence, you may be eligible for either an Injunction for Protection against Domestic Violence or an Injunction for Protection against Repeat Violence. An injunction is a protective order from the court that you can request by filing a sworn affidavit about the violence. This can be done by going to the County Courthouse.
You MUST be able to provide a current address for service of the injunction on the abuser.
Depending on the circumstances, the Court may:
`Order the abuser to vacate the residence that you share. `Restrain the abuser from further acts of violence. `Order the abuser to stay away form your home and your place of employment. `Address temporary custody of any children and order temporary child support. `Order the abuser to participate in counselling or a treatment program. `Add other terms the Court deems necessary for your protection.
KEEP YOUR INJUNCTION WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES
WHEN VIOLENCE OCCURS
`CALL 911. `Show police any injuries. `Keep medical records and take pictures of injuries. `Ask for help in getting to a domestic abuse shelter.
Supportive Services Can Help With:
Helping you understand the common reactions, behaviours and effects that the abuse is having on you and other family members.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURT ASSISTANCE
Explaining the court system, your rights and responsibilities, providing advance notification, when possible, of all court hearings and the final disposition of your case. Upon request, a counsellor may accompany you to hearings.
Advocating for you with attorneys, employer, landlord and other service providers.
BUREAU OF VICTIM COMPENSATION (In Ontario The Victims' Compensation Board)
The Bureau of Victim Compensation provides financial assistance to eligible victims who have received physical injuries. Assistance is available in filing and tracking claims.
Assistance with Injunctions for Protection and providing you with information on other community services such as shelters, emergency food, etc.
If you would like any further information about this topic, the Social Worker at your child`s school is available for consultation.