What is Abuse in Relationships? 

People often think that abuse is only real or serious if it’s physical.  But violence in relationships can take many forms, such as psychological, emotional, or sexual abuse.  All types of abuse have a negative impact on you, and all of them are serious.

Examples of abuse include:

• Threatening you, other family members or pets
• Threatening suicide to get you to do something
• Using or threatening to use a weapon against you
• Pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, or biting
• Taking your pay-check or withholding money
• Putting you down or calling you names
• Forcing you to have sex, or to do sexual acts you do not like
• Keeping you from seeing your friends, family or from going to work
• Following you around
• Keeping tabs on all your behaviours and activities
• Telling you not to associate with certain people, friends of family
• Intimidating you, or purposefully scaring you

Abuse takes many forms and can happen all the time, or once in a while.
Abuse is not accidental, unintended or without motive.  Abuse is about power and control.

What does Power and Control have to do with Abuse?

People who are abusive use violence, fear and threats to maintain power and control over their loved one.  Abusing is a choice abusers make to deliberately gain power and control over those they love.

Often, the abusive person will tell you that they only threaten or hurt you for your own good, that you provoked them to hurt you, or that there is something you have done to bring about the abuse.  This isn’t true!  Nobody deserves to be abused, ever.  You deserve respect.  Abuse can affect women and girls of any age, sexual orientation, race, religion, education, employment or marital status.  However, some women – for example, young women − are at increased risk. 

How Do I know if my Relationship is Abusive?

You can begin by asking yourself: Does someone you are in a relationship with...

• Become easily angered over small things?
• Try to control your contact with your family and friends?
• Need to know where you are constantly?
• Put you down, or call you names?
• Never take responsibility for his/her actions, blames you instead?
• Control all the finances, and insist you account for every cent spent?
• See himself/herself as being more important than you?
• Have a history of violence?
• Use force, threats or coercion to make you do things against your will?
• Pressure you to have sex?
• Force you to do sexual acts that you don’t like?
• Verbally attack you, yell or swear at you?

If you have answered Yes to these questions, your relationship may be abusive.

What can I do if my Relationship is Abusive?

If a relationship you are in is abusive, try to find someone safe you can talk to about it.  Your emotional and physical safety is really important. 

You may choose to talk to:

• A friend
• A family member
• Your doctor
• Your teacher
• A social worker, counsellor or guidance counsellor
• Somebody from your place of worship
• Somebody else who you trust

You can also contact a sexual assault centre or shelter near you for anonymous support, or for help in creating a safety plan. Help is available 24 hrs a day. 

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