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What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour which allows one person to have power and control over another person through the use of fear and intimidation.

The abuser can be your husband or partner, your ex-husband or ex-partner, any family member, or anyone who is living or has lived in your house.

95% of abuse is perpetrated by men on women (which is why we tend to speak of the abuser as “he”), but abuse also happens in same-sex relationships, and women are capable of abusing men. However, in this case (women abusing men) the dynamics are different and the abuse cannot be compared equally to men’s abuse of women.

If women use physical violence, it is usually in self-defense. Women who in desperation kill their abusive husbands, receive harsher sentences than men who kill their wives/partners. Men who complain that they are abused by their wife/partner, are likely to be told to go home and “discipline” her. Women who complain are likely to be told to go home and give him another chance.

Control is maintained through one or more of the following:

PHYSICAL ABUSE: Grabbing, pinching, punching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair pulling, scratching, biting, throwing things at you; stopping you from getting medical care or forcing you to use alcohol and/or drugs.

SEXUAL ABUSE: Forcing or attempting to force you to do any sexual act without your consent; raping or threatening to rape you (includes marital rape); treating you in a sexually humiliating manner.

ECONOMIC OR FINANCIAL ABUSE: Making or trying to make you financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources; not giving you money or only giving you a very small allowance; making you account for every cent you spend; stopping you from earning money; withholding access to money.

EMOTIONAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: Undermining your sense of self-worth, e.g., constantly criticising you, telling you that you are useless or stupid, calling you names, damaging your relationship with your children, humiliating you in public or privately; intimidating you; threatening physical harm to him/herself, to you and your children; destroying your belongings or the property; isolating you from your family and friends; harming your pets; being overly jealous and possessive; stalking you, i.e. following you or waiting for you at work or other places you frequent.

VERBAL ABUSE: calling you names; constantly shouting at you; swearing at you; talking to you as though you were a child or as though he/she owns you.