Domestic violence can occur as isolated major incidents or as a number of minor incidents that don’t seem serious on their own, but together form an abusive pattern of behaviour.

ALL forms of domestic violence are hurtful.  That being said, some forms are against the Criminal Law of Canada while others are not.

Domestic violence can take the shape of:

Emotional Abuse: Any behaviour that is intended to hurt, demean, isolate manipulate, or threaten another person.  Examples include:

  • Insults (e.g. “you’re fat, useless, stupid…”)
  • Isolating the victim from friends and family
  • Stalking and criminal harassment (e.g. repeated phone calls or text messages, following you, taking your mail, entering your home or workplace uninvited)
  • Threatening children, pets, or extended family members
  • Obsessive jealousy
  • Threats to self-harm (e.g. “I will kill myself if you don’t…”)
  • Destroying valued possessions
  • Constant surveillance

Economic Abuse: Behaviours that are intended to sabotage the victim’s ability to be financially independent.  Examples include:

  • Withholding money or taking the victim’s money
  • Controlling all major purchases
  • Spending carelessly while family goes without healthy food and shelter
  • Not giving access to bank accounts
  • Sabotaging the victim’s efforts to keep, maintain, or upgrade a job
  • Refusing to pay child support

Physical Abuse: Defines any unwanted physical contact (that might or might not result in visible injuries), including:

  • Punching, slapping, shoving, burning, pushing down the stairs, biting, using body to block access

Sexual Abuse: Refers to forced sex or any degree of sexual activity (including oral), as well as demeaning a person’s sexual identity.  Examples includes:

  • Rape
  • Hurtful or distasteful sexual activity
  • Knowingly exposing a partner to HIV or other STIs
  • Refusal to use or allow birth control
  • Repeatedly cheating on partner

Spiritual Abuse: This occurs when an abuser does not allow the victim to practice her/his faith or forces the victim to participate in other spiritual or religious practices.  Examples include:

  • Humiliating your partner for practising a certain religion
  • Forcing your partner to engage in different religious or ritual practices

See the Power and Control Wheel to learn more about the imbalance of power and control in abusive relationships.

Likewise, check out the Equality Wheel to learn about the balance of power and control in healthy relationships.

Both wheels were created by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, home of the Duluth Model approach for social change.