Q. What is abuse?

Abuse in relationships can be physical, emotional or verbal, psychological, sexual, and/or financial. Certain types of abuse are against the law — these include sexual and physical assault, and criminal harassment (stalking). Emotional, verbal, and psychological abuse — while not always illegal — are often more pervasive and damaging than the obvious physical or sexual abuse. Cyber-bullying and abuse through social media is now a serious mode of abuse. The position of RR is that there is no excuse for abuse, of any kind, ever.

Q. How prevalent is domestic violence?

Worldwide an estimated 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner (World Health Organization, 2016). Equally alarming is that 52% of spousal violence victims say that their children witnessed this violence (Statistics Canada, 2012). While not all children are affected by domestic violence in the same way, it is well understood that the long-term consequences of exposure to domestic violence can negatively affect a child’s development — including physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioural, and social aspects (World Health Organization, 2016). There were nearly 12,100 police-reported victims of intimate-partner violence in BC in 2015. But, it is estimated that about 70% of spousal violence is not reported to police.

Q. What should I do if someone I know is being abused?

Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number if someone you know is in immediate danger from assault or abuse. If you think that someone you know is being abused by a family member, it is important to act in a way that is safe and appropriate for everyone involved. You might be concerned about getting involved because you feel that family violence is a private matter and none of your business, but it’s important to remember that someone’s life may depend on it. Excellent detailed advice can be found here.

Q. Why do women stay in abusive relationships?

There are a number of compelling reasons why women stay. Partners Healthcare summarizes this in a helpful way:

  • SURVIVAL: Fear about her own and her children’s safety if she leaves.
  • ECONOMIC DEPENDENCE: Can she survive on one income?
  • FEAR: Of being alone, fear that she cannot cope with home and children by herself.
  • PARENTING: Wanting a father for the children.
  • RELIGION: Pressure to keep the family together.
  • FAMILY: Extended family pressure to keep the family together.
  • LOYALTY: If he had cancer, she’d stick by him.
  • RESCUE: If she stays, she can “save” him and help him “get better.”
  • FEAR OF HIS SUICIDE: He says he’ll kill himself if she leaves.
  • DENIAL: “It’s really not so bad.”
  • LOVE: She loves him, and he is quite often loving and lovable when he’s not being abusive.
  • IDENTITY: Many women feel that they need a man in order to be complete.
  • SHAME, EMBARRASSMENT, AND HUMILIATION: She doesn’t want anyone to know.
  • LOW SELF-ESTEEM: After years of being criticized by her abuser, she believes that it must be her fault, she must deserve it, she’ll never find anyone better, “a little love is better than no love at all.”
  • SEX ROLE: “That’s just the way men are.”

Given these various pressures to stay, it is clear that it takes both courage and accessibility to resources to leave. Resources are available to assist and a starting point is given in the Victim Contact section.

Q. What is bilateral violence or abuse?

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as any behavior within an intimate relationship or ex-relationship that causes physical, psychological, or sexual harm. IPV is not limited by age, marital status, cohabitation, or sexuality, and recognizes that women may be perpetrators as well as victims of IPV. Lifetime prevalence of isolated violent acts within relationships is comparable for men and women, but repeated coercive, sexual, or severe physical violence is perpetrated largely against women by men.

Q. What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a counselling approach which has proven to be very effective in assisting people with a wide array of problem behaviours. It focuses upon the way people think and act and is based upon the concept that our thoughts about a situation affect how we feel (emotionally and physically) and how we behave in that situation. CBT basics include:

  1. Gain self-awareness
  2. Understand the connection between thoughts, behaviours, and mood
  3. Use strategies to improve low mood and reduce anxiety
  4. Examine, evaluate and challenge thinking patterns
  5. Learn meditation to combat anxiety and depression
  6. Develop long-term strategies to maintain progress


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