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What is Abuse?

Abuse is a pattern of behaviour that one person uses to try to control and dominate another person. Research shows that the most common pattern is male-to-female abuse in a relationship. However, girls and women can also be abusive in relationships.

Inequalities in our society and different expectations about how men and women should behave can explain why it is most commonly boys or men who are abusive in relationships. In our society, men have traditionally been expected to be in control, tough or 'macho,' dominant and aggressive. Some guys think that they have to dominate girls and 'keep them in line' so they can see themselves as a 'real man'.

Men who are abusive often have these sorts of attitudes towards girlfriends and women in general. Violence and abuse is often used as a way to try and control your behaviour, so that you only do things that he wants you to do. A person who is abusive gets certain benefits from their behaviour, including getting their own way, getting attention and sense of power and importance.

Girls and women are also influenced by social expectations, which say that girls should be passive and should try to please others rather than think of their own needs. Traditionally in marriage women have been expected to 'love, honour and obey' their husbands. Our society encourages girls to believe that their relationship is the most important thing in their lives, or that they are worthless without a boyfriend.

Social attitudes play a big role in allowing abuse to continue by excusing the abuser from taking responsibility. A common attitude is that 'she provoked it,' as though women deserve abuse because of their behaviour. Also often people will say "Why does she put up with it? Why doesn't she just break up with him?" This implies that it's somehow her fault or there is something wrong with her because she stays. But really the only person to blame for the abuse is the person who is being abusive.

Emotional: threats to cause harm, playing mind games, humiliation, insults and/or name calling.

Physical: pushing, choking, slapping, hitting and kicking.

Economic: denial of money for food, clothes and/or personal use.

Social: isolation from friends and family members, fear of making someone angry.

Sexual: forced to have sex or be intimate against one's will.

No matter what you do, you don't deserve violence or abuse.

Do you have a Safety Plan?
If you are in an abusive relationship and fear for your life, take your safety seriously. Think of ways to protect yourself and develop a safety plan.

What to take when you leave checklist:

❑ Birth certificates (yours and the children’s)   
❑ House, car, and safety deposit box or post office box keys
❑ Social insurance cards   
❑ Calling card
❑ Driver’s licence and/or photo identification   
❑ Cell phone
❑ Passports   
❑ Address book
❑ Permanent residence card/immigration permits/visas   
❑ One month’s supply of all medicines you and your children are taking
❑ Any documents from another country to do with you or your children   
❑ Copies of prescriptions
❑ Marriage certificate   
❑ Jewellery or small objects you can sell
❑ Custody orders
❑ Pictures (make sure you have a picture of your spouse so you can serve legal
papers)
❑ Legal protection or restraining orders   
❑ Keepsakes
❑ Care cards/medical coverage forms
❑ Children’s treasures (e.g. stuffed animals or special blankets)
❑ Medical records for all family members
❑ Clothing for you and the kids
❑ Children’s school records
❑ Investment papers/records and bank account numbers
❑ Rental agreement/lease or house deed
❑ Cash
❑ Car title, registration, and insurance information   
❑ Credit cards
❑ ATM card   
❑ Cheque book and bank book

There may be many reasons why you are not leaving the abuser, if you are still with them:

  • Tell friends or family and get them to help protect you by being around when your boyfriend/girlfriend is there.
  • Try not to be alone with them.
  • Think of ways to stay in control of the situation. For example, if you are out, arrange another way of getting home rather than going with them, or try not to drink too much or use other drugs. Take extra money in case you need to call a taxi or use the telephone.
  • Have an excuse prepared so you can leave quickly if you feel uncomfortable or scared.
  • Have a code word or signal that you can use to get friends to help you
  • Memorize or write down the number of the police so you can call them if you are in danger.

Abuse can have an affect on you in all sorts of ways, such as:

  • not sleeping properly 
  • nausea or headaches 
  • abusing alcohol or drugs
  • anxiety or depression
  • missing classes, wagging school or taking days off work 
  • lower marks at school or university
  • constantly trying to do what they want
  • not communicating with your parents or family, or lying to them because they might blame you somehow or stop you from going out 
  • feeling like you can't trust people 
  • losing touch with who you are and what is important to you, your own opinions, feelings, friends, family 
  • having less confidence in yourself 
  • feeling alone and afraid to tell anyone

Someone who loves you should help you to feel good about yourself. No-one has the right to abuse you and make you feel so bad or confused.


MOSAIC believes in providing support to clients while receiving services. Please visit our dedicated client subsection that provides information on

  • Client Rights and Responsibilities,
  • Opportunity to tell your story,
  • Client satisfaction survey, and
  • Complaints procedures...by clicking here.