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What is domestic violence?
Types of violence

Verbal abuse

Verbal abuse consists of constant criticism, name-calling and “put-downs”. It is also characterized by unjustified accusations, false accusations of infidelity or of having taken part in sexual acts, or threats of violence against the woman, her children, her friends, her family or her favorite pet.

"You're stupid! You never understand anything!"


Psychological abuse

Psychological abuse includes excessive jealousy. He attempts to control how his wife or his partner spends her time, her activities,and even how she styles her hair and dresses. Men who are psychologically abusive will try to limit who their wife visits or talks to on the phone, so that the woman is gradually isolated from relatives and friends. A victim of psychological abuse may also be harassed at her workplace by phone calls or visits, have prized possessions destroyed, be systematically denied sex or affection and her spouse, partner or lover may also threaten her that he will commit suicide. Moreover, the man can threaten the woman to take her children away. If the woman is an immigrant or refugee, he may threaten to have her deported.
"You're so lucky to have me. No other man would want anything to do with you!"

You feel depressed and you find it difficult  to make decisions, even the smallest every  day decisions?

Violence can affect physical and mental health, the ability to work, and the relationship with your children and  relatives. 
It's time to take care of yourself. Talk to someone.


Physical abuse

Physical abuse include slapping, punching, pushing, biting or strangling his wife, or kicking her and threaten or injure her with a weapon or other object. Physical abuse can lead to death.  
"He pushed me down the stairs."

In Canada, one in three women has already experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner. Half of the women   were seriously injured. (Statistics Canada)

You are not responsible and you did not provoke it.
You have the right to be safe and live a life free from violence.


Sexual Abuse

Sexual violence occurs when the woman is forced or coerced in an intimate relationship without her consent or suffers pain or injury during sexual intercourse. It may also include being infected with HIV, AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases because the husband or partner refuses to use condoms, or he does not tell his partner that he has or could be a carrier of a disease.  
"Whenever I refused to have sex, he wouldn’t speak to me for three days.” 

Certain women are more likely to experience sexual violence.
It is estimated that up to 75% of Aboriginal girls were sexually assaulted. (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2008)
It is estimated that 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2004)

Financial abuse

Financial abuse occurs when a spouse forbids his partner to work, prevents her from becoming or remaining independent, denies her any access to resources or financially exploits her. 


Spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse is a form of abuse which, amongst others, occurs when the husband prevents his wife from participating in religious practices of her choice or by making fun of her spiritual values ​​and beliefs.


Ritual abuse

Ritual abuse is characterized by repetitive and methodical acts, which often include physical, psychological, emotional and sexual violence against women within a sect or a cult. Le Petit Robert defines a cult as: "A closed community, with spiritualist intents, where guides or leaders impose absolute control over members." (translation)

You do not deserve to suffer from violence, to be insulted, abused, exploited, ridiculed, beaten. You are not alone.  

Understanding what is going on is the first step.
Take that first step. Talk to someone about it. Break the silence.  
Call us at 1-800-461-1842. We can help you. You can also text us : 613-801-8169 or chat with us at 

Cycle of violence

Most women who are victims of domestic violence say that violence occurs in cycles. These phases may occur several times a day, once a week, or once in a while. Regardless of the frequency, they follow the same pattern.
The four phases of the cycle of violence, whether verbal, physical, psychological or sexual, may be of variable length and intensity during the lifetime of the same couple and from one couple to another.

Understanding what is going on is the first step.
Take that first step. Talk to someone about it. Break the silence.
Call us at 1-800-461-1842. We can help you. You can also text us : 613-801-8169 or chat with us at 


Domestic violence escalation

Domestic violence tends to escalate. We must take this into consideration when we make a decision concerning our relationship. 

As in the cycle of violence, the escalation of violence begins in a subtle way and almost inevitably increases. Initially starting with psychological abuse (controlling decisions), this violence then escalates into verbal abuse (insults, name calling, threats). Physical and/or sexual violence follows. The first physical assaults such as pinching the arm, shoving and pushing or slapping worsen over time and can even escalate to murder. 

It is very important to note that it is possible that an abuser never uses physical violence, or that it takes place much later. This means that the violence is mostly verbal and emotional for many, many years.

Adapted from the document La Violence Démasquée prepared by the Fédération des femmes canadiennes-françaises de l’Ontario, 1994



Domestic violence and technology

Information and communication technology evolves rapidly. They provide multiple benefits and are increasingly available and present in women’s lives. However, boundaries between private space and public space are now very thin and we know that certain abusers use technology as a tool to monitor or track their victim.

 Your partner:

  • insists that you share your social networking passwords (Facebook, My Space, etc.)?

  • reads all your text messages and e-mails?

  • downloads software to enable him to observe all your activities on your computer?

  • constantly bombards you with text messages to find out where you are and with whom. He buys you a cell phone and forces you to answer to check up on your whereabouts?

  • uses the geolocation function of your smartphone to track you down?

  • checks the history of your Internet searches?

  • He uses technology to better control and harass you.

Safety and technology


The Internet is an extraordinary tool for access to a wide range of virtually infinite information. It is also a powerful communication tool that has transformed the planet. The Internet also has disadvantages and dangers. Dangers of being fooled

Be very careful as to the identity of the person and the credibility of the site you visit.

Social dangers

To be harassed, stalked, verbally abused, to receive unsolicited or even pornographic messages.

Financial dangers 

Your personal information may be used without consent by criminals (i.e. credit card number). 

Danger to your reputation

Someone may use your identity to commit crimes. The person to whom you are sending confidential messages may choose to report you to your employer, your spouse. The information that you publish on social networks can be consulted by a potential employer. 

Excerpt from the brochure “The issues of «chat lines»” from the Centre Victoria pour femmes de Sudbury (French only)


Online safety

Protect your personal information

  • Below are guidelines on how to protect your personal information against identity theft and other forms of abuse of your privacy rights.

  • Always be cautious about giving your personal information, your name, home address, phone number, social insurance number, credit card, etc. 

  • Find out how your personal information will be used. Read the web site's privacy statements. 

  • Don't open email from unknown sources. Don't use a preview pannel to see the email. Don't open an attachment unless you know what is in it, no matter if you know the email address of the person who sent it. Don't click on the email or pop ups. Don't enter personal information in pop ups and don't click on links supplied by a pop up. 

  • Make sure that it is a legitimate web site. If you are in doubt contact the organization to ask for their web site address. Look to see if the location bar shows https:// in front of the address (URL). If you see a locked lock or unbroken key in the corner of your browser window, the site is legitimate. 

  • Disable or mask your web camera by using black adhesive tape. Hackers have the ability to activate it and film you without you knowing it.

  • Be careful. The command "delete" does not erase your message. It can be recovered.

  • Use software to protect the information on your computer.

  • Download firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Talk to a computer professional who will give you recommendations.

Use passwords and usernames that can't be easily guessed or located. Change passwords.

  • Use generic usernames, not something that would identify your name or your gender.

  • Use passwords that are a combination of letters  and numbers.

  • Don't save passwords on your computer.

  • Don't use the option offered by some web sites to remember usernames or passwords.

  • Change passwords frequently.

  • Don't share passwords with anyone.

Save important sensitive documents and information on a USB key or a CD. Erase important information from the computer.

Your information is easily accessible by hackers if you are often online.

  • Manage/Delete cookies, cache, temporary Internet files, history, and location bar regularly. You will find these within your computer's parameters. 

Protect yourself if you decide to meet someone you met online

  • Bring a friend along with you; never meet him alone

  • Arrange to meet in a public place

  • Use your own transportation means to go there and to come back

  • Make sure someone is aware of your outing

  • Be clear about your expectations

  • Don't let the other person change the conditions of the meeting

  • Just remember, as soon as you have doubts or you feel threatened (whether during a phone conversation, while chatting online or when meeting in person), you can end the session.

Remember no matter what: It is not your fault! You are not to blame if someone else is violent or abusive towards you or disrespects your rights in any way. The abuser is 100% responsible for his actions.

Excerpt from the brochure “The issues of «chat lines»” from the Centre Victoria pour femmes de Sudbury. (French only)

Safety and social networking

Keep your personal information private

  • Only add friends who are real friends

  • Adjust privacy settings

  • Use a disposable email (hotmail, yahoo, etc.)

  • Never meet alone, in person, with anyone you have met online

  • Only share profile and photos with people on your friends list

  • Don't post your whereabouts online

  • Think about the possible consequences of the information and photos you post online

  • Never post sexually provocative photos

  • Deactivate the geolocation function

Remember no matter what: It is not your fault! You are not to blame if someone else is violent or abusive towards you or disrespects your rights in any way. The abuser is 100% responsible for his actions.

Educate Yourself

Become familiar with your social networking site:

  • Read the Privacy Policy

  • Read the Terms of Use 

  • Locate your privacy settings and adjust them to fit your needs

  • Check the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use from time to time to see if your social networking site has changed them.

Adjust Your Privacy Settings

Most social networking websites have privacy settings. In some cases, it is appropriate to leave your information open to the public. However, for more personal uses of a social networking site, it is appropriate to limit who has access to your information. If you are receiving unsolicited messages, you may block the sender using your privacy settings. It is also a good idea to notify your social networking provider of any threatening or suspicious behaviour that you may encounter. Lastly, if your social networking site profile has been hacked into, change your password or delete the account altogether.

Adapted from

CAUTION: A victim who attempts to escape violence should disable the geolocation function of her smart mobile device and social networks.

Online safety and my children

How to protect your children?

  • Keep  the computer in an open area of the home, where adults can supervise (rather than in your children’s room).

  • Set house rules about what information and files your children may or may not give out. Never permit your child or teen to give out identifying and personal information.

  • Use filtering tools to block access to chat lines and telephone meeting services on the Internet by communicating with your server.

  • Install software to supervise Internet navigation.

Excerpt from the brochure “The issues of «chat lines»” from the Centre Victoria pour femmes de Sudbury. (French only)

Legal Information

A worker from our Outreach Services can accompany and support you, and inform you about your rights. 

Understanding what is going on is the first step.
Take that first step. Talk to someone about it. Break the silence.  
Call us at 1-800-461-1842. We can help you. You can also text us : 613-801-8169 or chat with us at 

We can help you.

You can also obtain information about your rights at

We understand why it is so hard to leave

Many women are trapped into the spiral of abuse for many years. The reasons that lead a woman to stay with an abusive partner are far from simple.


I'm afraid of what he wil do if I leave

Are you afraid that if your abuser finds you, his violence will only get worse? 
Call us or come to our shelter where you will be safe.

I know that I should leave, but I don’t know how I will support myself and my children?

You may be worried about starting a new life, alone with your children. A counsellor of the Transitional and Housing Support Program will help and support you in assessing your financial needs and offer you options.



I don’t know my rights.

Are you afraid of the legal procedures and you don’t know where to go to obtain information on your rights? 
A counsellor can accompany and support you through the Outreach Services. 


I feel so overwhelmed.

You feel depressed and unable to make decisions, even small daily decisions. During this period, the support of others is essential.
Call us. We are here to listen. 1-800-461-1842
You can also text us : 613-801-8169 or chat with us at 

Put your life back together. A woman may not leave an abusive relationship for a number of reasons such as shame, fear, economic dependency, isolation and lack of family support.

Break the silence. This is the first step.

Domestic dispute or domestic violence?

In all kinds of relationships, even healthy ones, people have problems, disputes and arguments. People's behavioural style during such arguments or disputes differentiates healthy relationships from unhealthy ones.

In an healthy relationship

  • There is no fear of physical or verbal abuse
  • People discuss the issue
  • Emotions are communicated in an honest way, using assertiveness techniques
  • People speak one after the other
  • Both agree to take a break when tension builds up
  • People treat each other with respect
  • People are able to say “I’m sorry”
  • The two partners win and benefit from better understanding their relationship
In an unhealthy relationship
  • There is always a threat of violence
  • Old problems obscure the issue
  • People argue about the facts and try to make the other react in a defensive way
  • There are constant interruptions. We ignore the other and we refuse to talk.
  • Tension escalates to the point of explosion.
  • There are personal insults. People yell and call each other name.
  • People refuse to admit their wrongs and tend to blame others
  • The person who controls the other is the winner  
Understanding what is going on is the first step.
Take that first step. Talk to someone about it. Break the silence. 
Call us at 1-800-461-1842. We can help you. You can also text us : 613-801-8169 or chat with us at 

Adaptation of Breaking the cycle... A program to help women change the course of their life. This work was originally published by Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks (California) 1995, under the title Supplement to Pattern Changing for Abused Women: An Educational Program.

Children who witness partner abuse



  • It is estimated that approximately one million children have witnessed acts of violence committed by their father against their mother.
  • Nearly 40% of women assaulted by their spouses said that their children witnessed the violence and in many cases the violence was severe.
  • Between 80 and 90% of children living in homes where there is spousal abuse are aware of the violence and affected by it whether "they see it, they hear it or they become aware of it in some other way."


Domestic violence has serious effects on children witnessing it: mental health problems, developmental disabilities, isolation, and tendency to reproduce aggressive behaviours.


  • Children who witness domestic violence tend to have lower grades than other students. They are likely to miss school more often. Whatever their age, they may at times have difficulty paying attention because they are preoccupied and anxious. They tend to skip school more often than others. When at school, they may be withdrawn or aggressive. 

  • Children from violent homes tend to have underdeveloped social skills. 


  • Very young children, even infants, are significantly affected by violence, and may have problems sleeping, gain weight and cry excessively for example. 

  • Children beyond the infant or pre-school age often feel they should try to intervene to protect their mother during an abusive incident. 

  • Several studies show that girls who witness violence have a greater tendency to become withdrawn and depressed, while boys have a greater tendency to act aggressively. However, these problems are present in both boys and girls. 

  • Boys, particularly those who are 11 years old or older, who strongly identify with their fathers, may imitate them and be aggressive towards their mother and other women around them. 

I can't leave my spouse because children need a loving family, parents who live together.

It would be ideal, of course, that children live with both of their parents. However, witnessing domestic violence has significant effects and consequences

We never argue in front of the children.

Domestic violence affects children, even if they are not directly involved. Witnessing domestic violence has significant effects and consequences

I feel sad and guilty that my children were victims of domestic violence.

You are not responsible. He chose to use violence. You have the power to put your life back together and break the cycle.

Do you want to talk about it? Call us at 1-800-461-1842. We are here to listen. You can also text us : 613-801-8169 or chat with us at 

Myths and prejudices

My spouse is violent because he is using drugs or alcohol, has a lot of stress or health problems.

These factors are triggers that serve as pretexts to excuse the violence and remove any sense of responsibility from your spouse. They are not the causes of violence. He has chosen to act in an aggressive manner.  


It is in the nature of men to be aggressive and violent.

Many men still believe they are superior to women and that we must obey them. Violence is learned behaviour used as a strategy to control others. Beliefs, values ​​and cultural norms continue to reinforce inequalities between women and men in our society. 


I provoke violence by the way I behave, talk, etc.

No one deserves to suffer from violence. The abuser chooses to react aggressively. He is 100% responsible for the violence. 


I can change him.

You cannot change him because you can’t control his actions. He will continue to be violent until he admits that he is responsible for the violence and that he most likely needs help. 


What happens at home stays at home.

Domestic violence is a major social problem, which has several negative consequences for you and your children. It is a crime punishable by law.   



 My husband is not violent. He "loses control".

Violence is not about losing control, but rather about the exertion of control.

Understanding what is going on is the first step.
Take that first step. Talk to someone about it. Break the silence. 
Call us at 1-800-461-1842. We can help you. You can also text us : 613-801-8169 or chat with us at