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Does Someone You Know Need Help?

Understanding Domestic Violence

If you have not been involved in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to understand why someone else might be reluctant to do something about the abusive situation they are in. The following information will help you understand and provides some suggestions on how you can help someone you know who may need help.

Why do women stay in abusive relationships?

Women attempt to leave an average of six to seven times before making the final move away from an abusive relationship. There are many reasons why a woman might stay in, or return to, an abusive environment, including:

  • Fear of reprisal.
  • Reluctance to break up the family.
  • Concern about children's welfare and/or about losing custody.
  • Lack of money, job skills and/or opportunities.
  • Concern about pets, property, possessions.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Cultural, religious beliefs.
  • Pressure from family, friends.
  • Feelings of shame and embarrassment.
  • Believe abuser's promises to change.


Why don't more women report cases of assault to the police?

Victims may not report assault for several reasons including:

  • Fear of retaliation.
  • Lack of knowledge about legal rights.
  • Concern that they won't be believed.
  • Belief in abuser's promises to change.
  • Feelings of intimidation about the criminal justice system.
  • Worries that the police or courts will not adequately protect them.

Know the Signs of Domestic Violence – You Could Save a Life !

Domestic violence is more than a kick or a punch, or pushing or choking.  It has many forms: physical; emotional; financial; and mental abuse. Recognizing the many forms and signs of abuse can help you or someone you know escape the devastation of this violence.

Physical abuse is when a partner...

  • kicks, hits, pulls, punches, pushes or holds their partner down.
  • threatens their partner or inflicts physical pain and harm with a weapon.
  • restrains or locks up their partner.
  • deprives their partner of sleep, medication, food or medical attention.

Emotional abuse is when a partner...

  • blames their partner for all that goes wrong.
  • constantly demeans their partner, either alone or in front of others.
  • limits their partner's contact with others.
  • threatens to hurt or take away their partner's children, pets or property.
  • restricts their partner's privacy and wants to know where they are at all times.
  • ridicules the partner's family and friends.
  • threatens suicide if their partner leaves.

Financial abuse is when a partner...

  • refuses to provide money for the family's basic needs.
  • denies access to the family finances.
  • keeps the finances a secret.
  • refuses to spend money on special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries.
  • runs up debts.
  • refuses to let their partner get or keep a job.

Sexual abuse is when a partner...

  • touches against the other partner's will.
  • forces their partner to have intercourse.
  • demands that the other partner assume sexual positions and perform sexual acts against their will.
  • makes degrading sexual comments about their partner.
  • treats their partner like a sex object.

The Facts about Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence against women is a global, national and community problem. It does not discriminate. Women and girls of every age and from every culture and racial background are victims of domestic violence.

Research conducted by the United Nations indicates that the most common form of violence against women globally is the physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner. On average, at least one in three women is beaten or forced into sex by an intimate partner over the course of her lifetime.

Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their former or current husband or partner. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United States, 40-70 per cent of female murder victims were killed by their partners.

In Canada,

  • At least one in eight women is abused by their partner.
  • On any given day, more than 3,000 women together with about 2,500 of their children are living in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence.
  • Sixty-four per cent of all female homicide victims were murdered by their former or current partner.

Victims of domestic violence are overwhelmingly female.  According to Family Violence in Canada A Statistical Profile, 83 per cent of all police-reported.

  • Domestic assaults are against women and this pattern is consistent in for every province and territory across Canada.
  • Three times as many women experience serious violence such as choking, beating, being threatened with a knife or gun, and sexual violence, and women are more likely to be physically injured than men.
  • Girls are four time more likely than boys to be sexually assaulted by a family member.

In the communities of the Georgian Triangle

  • More than 150 incidences happen, and those are just the reported occurrences.
  • My Friend's House serves an average of 600 women and their children from the Georgian Triangle each year – 200 through our Shelter Program and the balance through our Outreach, Transition and Children's Programs.

Those at Greatest Risk

Studies compiled by the United Nations and other organizations serving women indicate:

  • Aboriginal women in Canada are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as a result of violence...and in many of these cases the violence is inflicted by a former or current partner.
  • Women with disabilities are up to 10 times more likely to experience domestic violence than non-disabled women.
  • Women less than 25 years of age make up the highest risk group related to violence, especially if they try to leave a relationship.
  • Other women considered to be more likely to experience domestic violence include pregnant women and those living in rural communities.

How to Help Someone You Know You Think is Being Abused

There are a number of practical ways you can support someone you think is being abused:

Volunteer to Assist.

Offer a ride to the doctor, lawyer, My Friend's House or other appointments.

Provide your time and or vehicles to assist with moving.

Volunteer to babysit and help out with the children.

Let her leave valuables, important papers and a suitcase of clothes at your place.

Give emotional support.

Listen to her and let her express her feelings.

Attend appointments with her to be her "ears", especially in the early stages when it may be difficult for her to remember details because of stress.

Help her understand the many good things about herself and her children.

Invite her to share a meal with you.

Respect her confidentiality and her decisions.

Help her to find the important community resources she can use.

Show understanding and acceptance.Believe her. Give clear messages to convey that.Violence is never okay. The safety of a woman and her children is always the most important issue.Seeking shelter is a good option if she feels she needs to leave as a result of any form of abuse, including emotional abuse.She is not to blame for the abuse.She cannot change her abuser's behaviour.Apologies and promises will not end the abuse.She is not alone or crazy.Abuse is a way of controlling another person.  It is not about the loss of control.There is hope and a better way to live outside of an abusive relationship.There are ways she can plan for her and her children's safety.There are ways to cover their tracks.

Help financially.Help pay for groceries, bills and other necessary expenses.

Offer to babysit.

Help them Make a Safety Plan

By having a safety plan, she and her children will know in advance what steps they need to take should the threat of, or a further violent situation occur.

Safety Plan Checklist

Checklist before a Violent Incident (to come).Checklist of what to do during a Violent Incident (to come).Introduce them to My Friend's House.With her permission, make an appointment to visit My Friend's House to speak with a counselor and/or see the facility.

What Not to Do

Some advice is not useful and may even be dangerous for her to hear:Don't tell her what to do, when to leave or when not to leave.Don't tell her to go back to the situation and try a little harder.Don't try to rescue her by finding quick solutions.Don't suggest she try to talk to her partner to straighten things out.Don't tell her she should stay for the sake of the children.Don't lose patience if she leaves, then returns.Don't judge her or her choices.

You Can Help End Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is everyone's problem. It hurts. It kills. You can help end the violence against our mothers, daughters, sisters, co-workers and friends.Learn more about the issue by exploring the resources on this website and others.Speak up and start the conversation about domestic violence and its devastating consequences.Raise awareness by encouraging your doctor, lawyer or other service providers to download and distribute My Friend's House brochure (click our brochure tab).



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