Abuse And Domestic Violence
WHAT IS ABUSE?
Abuse is one person trying to control another by using fear, violence, or bullying. Physical abuse is an injury to your body. Abuse may include hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, throwing, stabbing, and choking. It may also include beating you with objects such as a knife or cord or purposely burning you with hot water, cigarettes, or a stove.
Abuse is not just physical. It may also be mental, emotional, or sexual. Mental and emotional abuse includes swearing or threatening to hit you; insulting you, making fun of you, or calling you names; forcing you to do shameful or humiliating acts; threatening to hurt your children if you don’t do what the abuser wants; or hurting or destroying valued property or pets.
Sexual abuse includes forcing you to have sex; hurting your breasts or genitals; or making you do sexual acts with other people or animals.
HOW DOES ABUSE OCCUR?
Abuse can happen to anyone. It happens to women and men. It happens to all social classes, and to people who speak all languages. It happens regardless of sexual orientation or religion. Poverty and substance abuse increase the risk. Abuse often follows a pattern that has 3 phases.
First phase: In this phase the abuser gets edgy and tense. Almost any subject, such as housework or money, may cause tension to build up. Verbal abuse, insults, and criticism increase. Shoving begins.
Second phase: The tension mounts. You may argue or defend yourself. The abuser responds by hitting or kicking you, often saying that it is to teach you a lesson.
Third phase: The abuser apologizes and promises to change. The abuser may be so charming that you believe that the violence will not happen again. You may think that the danger has passed and the relationship can be saved. Usually the abuse will continue and get worse. The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the greater your risk of being badly hurt.
ABUSE DURING PREGNANCY AND CHILD ABUSE
Abuse often starts or gets worse during pregnancy. This puts both the woman and the unborn baby at risk.
People who abuse a spouse are also likely to threaten or abuse their children. Babies in an abusive home may have problems with feeding, play, and other daily activities. They may get fussier. The fussiness can increase an infant’s risk of being a target of violence. Children who are abused can have many problems. They may have stomachaches, headaches, diarrhea, or problems with bed-wetting and sleeping. Often they have trouble in school and don’t trust others.
Children may think that violence is the way to deal with problems. Abused children are more likely to get into an abusive relationship when they grow up. Protecting a child from abuse is one reason to leave a relationship.
HOW CAN I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF?
Ask yourself if your relationship is safe.
Arguments are normal in a relationship. However, physical violence is never okay. No one has the right to hurt someone else. Does your spouse or lover ever:
· Scare you with threats of violence by throwing things when angry?
· Hit you, then tell you it’s your fault?
· Promise the violence won’t occur again, but it does?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you are in an abusive relationship. You could be risking your own health and that of your children.
Admit you are abused.
You have the right to feel safe, especially in your own home. Talk with a healthcare provider, counselor, friend, or family member about what is happening. Find someone you can call if you need to leave a dangerous situation. Many people who have been abused get mood disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder. Getting help for these disorders can help you to deal with an unhealthy relationship.
Learn the warning signs.
Learn to tell when violent behavior might happen before it does. Warning signs often include:
· telling you not to see certain friends or family members, keeping you away from school or work, or making you stay home when you want to go out
· putting you down by name-calling or constant criticism
· violent threats toward children, other family members, or pets
· threatening to use a weapon, such as a gun or knife
Have a safety plan.
A safety plan includes avoiding arguments in small rooms, rooms with weapons, such as a kitchen, and rooms with no outside doors. Stay away from alcohol and drugs, because they can keep you from acting quickly to protect yourself or your child.
Plan an emergency exit.
Know where to go in your community for help, such as:
· police department
· crisis hotlines
· rape crisis centers
· domestic violence programs
· legal aid services
· hospital emergency rooms
· shelters for abused adults and children
· mental health centers
If you feel you or your children are in danger from your partner, take action. Pack a suitcase to store with a friend or neighbor that includes a change of clothing for you and your children and an extra set of keys to the house and car.
Keep the following items in an easy-to-find but safe place, so you can take them with you on short notice:
· medicines for you or your children
· IDs such as birth certificates, Social Insurance Number cards, and driver’s license
· extra cash, your checkbook, savings account book, and credit cards
· important documents such as welfare identification, insurance records, automobile titles, marriage license, address book, passports, Permanent resident card
· copies of legal documents such as protective orders, divorce or custody papers
· a toy or book for each child
· extra set of car, house, office, and safety deposit box keys
· telephone numbers and addresses of family, friends, and community agencies
Know exactly where you will go and how to get there at any time of day. Explain to the person helping you that you may have to show up suddenly in case of an emergency. In an emergency, call 911. Report the attack to the police as soon as possible.
See your healthcare provider, call 811 or go to the emergency room if you are hurt. Give healthcare providers complete information about how you were injured. Ask for a copy of the medical record. Charges may be filed.
Do not confuse guilt with love. You and your children should never be beaten. You will need to think about the long-term situation. No matter what choices you make, counseling can be very helpful. Counseling can help you to look at yourself more positively. It can also help you as you begin to make changes in your life. If you and your partner want to have a healthy relationship, there are many options. Individual or group counseling can help victims of abuse. The abuser must get treatment before you try getting back together. Your partner must admit to losing control and learn new ways of dealing with conflict. Then you can feel safe in the relationship again.
You may decide to leave your partner for good. If you are married to the abuser, it is important to get a lawyer who deals with abuse cases. If you are concerned that you can’t afford a lawyer, call a legal aid service in your community.
WHERE CAN I CALL FOR HELP?
For information on resources you can visit the Nova Scotia Government Web site: http://novascotia.ca/just/victim_Services/family_violence.asp. You can also look in your local telephone book for agencies in your area.
For information on resources you can visit the Prince Edward Island Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention web site: http://www.stopfamilyviolence.pe.ca/
If you are a child or teenager, you can contact Kids Help Phone for assistance, please call 1-800-668-6868, or visit www.KidsHelpPhone.ca
If you are a woman, or her children, experiencing violence and abuse, you can find a shelter at http://nsdomesticviolence.ca/
For information on additional resources you can visit the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/sfv-avf/index-eng.php