What Is Family Violence?


Definition of Family Violence

Conduct or behaviour (whether actual or threatened) by a person towards a family member, or property of a family member, that causes fear (or apprehension) for his/her personal wellbeing or safety. Family violence is about attempting to gain power and control over another person.

Family violence experts Dr. Richard Gelles and Dr. Murray Straus stated close to 20 years ago, and which is still true today in Canada: “You are more likely to be physically assaulted, beaten, and killed in your own home at the hands of a loved one than any place else, or by anyone else in society.”

These are just some examples:

Physical abuse includes hitting, pinching, slapping, pushing, punching, kicking, burning, stabbing, shooting, or being locked out. It may also include threats to cause harm.

Psychological abuse (sometimes referred to as emotional or verbal abuse) includes put-downs, name calling, jealousy, gossiping/backbiting, isolation from family and friends, and threats to leave the relationship or to commit suicide if the victim does not cooperate.

Sexual abuse includes unwanted touching, unwanted sexual activity, or exposing self sexually. It may include control over birth control, forced pregnancies or abortions, and intentional transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Financial abuse occurs when an individual uses finances to control another individual. This could include forcing a person to hand over all or some of their money, denying someone access to money, or prohibiting them from getting a job.

Spiritual abuse occurs when an individual uses religious or spiritual matters to control another, such as forcing another to follow a particular faith or give up their religion. Elder abuse is disrespecting older people financially, emotionally, physically and/or spiritually.

Elder abuse is disrespecting older people financially, emotionally, physically and/or spiritually. 

The abuser may use a number of tactics other than physical violence in order to maintain power and control over his or her partner.


Where can I find help, where can anyone find help?

Talk with someone you trust, someone who cares about you. Health staff, a teacher, an elder of a friend. If there isn’t anyone you can trust you can call the 24/7 provincial toll-free crisis line: 1 877-977-0007

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will within honouring life.