Gateway Gazette

Rowan House: Knowing Abuse

Domestic violence is the abuse of power within relationships of family, trust or dependency that endangers the survival, security or well-being of another person. It includes:

Physical abuse: Slapping, choking, or punching. Using hands or objects as weapons. Threatening with a knife or gun. Committing murder.

Sexual abuse: Using threats, intimidation, or physical force to force her into unwanted sexual acts.

Emotional or verbal abuse: Making degrading comments about her body or behaviour. Forcing her to commit degrading acts. Confining her to the house. Destroying her possessions. Threatening to kill her or the children. Threatening to commit suicide.

Financial abuse: Stealing or controlling her money or valuables (of particular concern to older women). Forcing her to work or denying her the right to work.

Spiritual abuse: Using her religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate, and control her.

Criminal harassment/stalking: Following her or watching her in a persistent, malicious, and unwanted manner. Invading her privacy in a way that threatens her personal safety. Who does domestic violence affect? Violence occurs in all age, racial, economic, educational, occupational, and faith groups.

Warning Signs Someone May Have Been Abused:

  • Unexplained bruises, burns or cuts
  • Avoidance of eye contact or physical contact
  • Depression, anxiety or mood swings
  • Problems sleeping
  • Alcohol, drug use or misuse

Domestic violence is not just a family issue. One in three women will experience family violence at the hands of their partners during their lifetime making family violence the single greatest social issue facing our community. Did you know: The cost of violence against women in Canada for health care, criminal justice, social services, and lost wages and productivity has been calculated at approximately $4.2 billion per year?

What Individuals Can Do:

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

Put her safety first. Never talk to anyone about abuse in front of their suspected abuser. Unless she specifically asks for it, never give her materials about domestic abuse or leave information through voice messages or emails that might be discovered by her abuser. However, abuse thrives in secrecy, so speak up if you can do so safely.

If she wants to talk, listen. If she doesn’t, simply tell her she does not deserve to be harmed and that you are concerned for her safety. Ask her if there is anything you can do to help, but don’t offer to do anything that makes you uncomfortable or feels unsafe.

If she decides to stay in the relationship, try not to judge her. Remember, leaving an abuser can be extremely dangerous. Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can offer a woman who is being abused is your respect.

What the Community Can Do:

Encourage a community standard that family violence and bullying are not okay.

Rowan House 24 Hr. Crisis Line: 403.652.3311

www.rowanhouse.ca

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