Q. What if the person who has sexually assaulted me is my partner/husband/boyfriend?
Physical abuse may include things such as: hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, pushing, pinching, choking, arm twisting, and any deliberate action that causes physical injury.
Emotional or verbal abuse may include things such as: threatening to hit, punch, slap, or kill you; using insulting language about your appearance, intelligence, friends, family, sexuality; isolating you from friends and family; threats to harm you, your family or friends; threats to harm your pets; threats to take your children from you; threats to affect your immigration status; threats to reveal your sexual identity against your wishes; not allowing you to have things that are essential to you such as money, prescription drugs, a wheelchair or other assistive device; destroying things that are important to you; controlling your finances.
Sexual abuse includes such acts as: forcing participation in sexual activity, especially acts that are humiliating; physical assault for refusing to participate in sexual activity.
NOT ALL FORMS OF ABUSE WILL CONSTITUTE ASSAULT, OR A CRIMINAL OFFENCE, BUT ALL ARE UNACCEPTABLE AND EXTREMELY HARMFUL.
Laws define abuse differently: only some of the acts perpetrated by an abusive partner’s behaviors will be defined by the law and will be punishable by the courts. There are several different kinds of abusive behavior defined by different laws.
Sexual assault laws make any of the acts described under sexual abuse a criminal offence. (See the section on sexual assault for a definition of sexual assault.) Someone convicted of such an offence faces imprisonment. The following are defined by the Criminal Code of Canada: sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon, aggravated sexual assault.
Assault, assault with a weapon, and aggravated assault without the sexual element, are also crimes which carry the possibility of prison sentences if a person is convicted. Threatening to assault you is also an assault under the law even if the threat is simply made by a gesture.
When the police investigate an assault, they usually look for signs of physical abuse. The police seldom lay charges for other kinds of abusive behavior, unless the abuse is extremely severe.
Q. My partner is only abusive some of the time...?
Tension may emerge such as minor disagreements. It builds over a period of hours, days, even months. Finally an “explosion” occurs in the form of physical, psychological or sexual assault. A period of calm may follow, and the partner may even buy gifts and feel sorry for what happened. But gradually this cycle will begin again.
Some women do not live with this type of cycle, but for many it is all too common. The pattern that develops can become predictable and a source of tension even when an episode of abuse is not taking place.
Q. If I am being abused, what should I do?
Making a decision to leave is difficult, particularly when you have academic and/or economic considerations that affect you. Ask yourself:
The answers to these questions ca help you decide what to do. And remember, it is every difficult for violent individuals to change. The abuse usually gets worse over time. In all cases, however, the abusive behavior will not stop unless your partner seeks help and really wants it to stop.
2. Medical attention
If you have been sexually assaulted you should go to a hospital before you eat or drink anything or wash and clean up. A staff member from a shelter, or from a sexual assault crisis center can go with you to assist. You may want to lay criminal charges, and the doctor or nurse that you got the injuries from your partner’s abuse. It is important for them to know.
If you have been sexually assaulted you should go to a hospital before you eat or drink anything or wash and clean up. A staff member from a shelter, or from a sexual assault center can go with you to assist. You may want to lay criminal charges, and the doctor will have to collect evidence for the court. It is important to let the doctor know that you may want to lay criminal charges. It doesn’t mean that you have to lay charges.
3. Where can I go?
Shelters try to provide sensitive and caring environments for a wide range of needs, but often women with specific needs may have to inquire about whether the shelter can accommodate them.
If you are a woman with a disability, you may wish to contact community-based agencies that specialize in work with persons with disabilities to get help in contacting appropriate service agencies, such as accessible shelters. Women with disabilities may face negative stereotypes and attitudes within service systems. People with physical disabilities are often ignored and ridiculed, or considered mentally incompetent when they seek help from professionals. Women with disabilities can be more vulnerable than women who do not have a disability, especially if they need accommodation to communicate with the service provider.
If you are a woman of colour, visitor or immigrant woman, finding services that are culturally appropriate or sensitive may be more difficult. Cultural stereotypes and attitudes may cause violence in the lives of minority women to be accepted or trivialized. Service providers may not always be aware of the implications of leaving a relationship to a visitor or immigrant woman. You may wish to contact community organizations or legal clinics to find culturally sensitive agencies that can help.
If you are a First Nations woman, you may be able to contact a shelter specifically for First Nations women. These are not present in all communities however, and the local shelter may not have staff with the specific cultural background to understand your needs. Many First Nations shelters have a toll free phone number for information for women who may be far from such a shelter. Many have staff who are bilingual and so can communicate in a First Nations language. Some offer translation to Native languages.
Seeking out services that deal intelligently and compassionately with lesbian abuse can be a frustrating process. The degree to which shelters provide comprehensive programs for tackling the issue, provide support for survivors, and actively promote their services to the local lesbian community depends largely upon their resources and awareness of the issue. Many shelters remian a heterosexual environment, tuned to the needs of heterosexual environment, tuned to the needs of heterosexual women escaping violence from men. Local help lines may help reassure you about how adaptable your local shelter is to the needs of lesbians.
If you feel you cannot, or you simply do not wish to go to a shelter, you may want to go to a friend or family member. Keep in mind however, that it is often easier for your partner to find you in such a place than at a shelter. Also, consider that friends and family may not be as experienced in helping you in your present circumstances as staff working in a shelter.
4. What should I take if I leave?
- important documents such as birth certificates, passports, citizenship papers, immigration papers, child custody papers, court orders such as a peace bond, health cards, social insurance card, your partner's social insurance number
If you are thinking about leaving, you may want to collect some of these things and put them in a safe place in case you decide to leave quickly.
5. If I am a visitor, or an immigrant woman... will I be deported if I leave my partner?
A person would not be deported solely because a sponsorship has broken down.
...will my partner be deported if I leave or charge him with a crime?
6. What about children?
If you get custody of the children, their father will likely be able to visit them. You might want to arrange for someone else to be there when the father picks up and returns the children. If you are worried about your children's safety, your lawyer can ask the court to order that someone supervise the visits.
Tell your lawyer if you think your children's father will try to take them out of the country. If you ask, the court may order that the children's passports be kept by the court.
If your children are Canadian citizens, call the Passport Office at 1-800-567-6868 or TTY (613)-994-3560. Ask them to put the children's names on a list so you can be called if the children's father tries to get a passport for them. If your children have another nationality, contact that embassy or consulate to ask them to refuse passports for your children.
If you have a custody order, it is a good idea to keep a copy with you, in case there's a problem. You can also give a give to your children's school.
7. Can I leave the province or the country?
8. Making notes.
Q. How can I tell I am in an abusive relationship?
Are you dating or living with someone who...
...is jealous and possessive towards you, won't let you have friends, checks up on you, or won't accept breaking up?
...tries to control you, is bossy, gives orders, makes all the decisions, or doesn't take your opinion seriously, tells you what to wear and how to act in public?
...threatens you (to hurt you, to leave your or to commit suicide if you leave)?
...scares you "for a laugh" for example, drives recklessly?
...is violent towards others and gets into fights, has a quick templer, uses violence when angry?
...pressures you for sex, tries to manipulate you into having sex by saying things like :If you really loved me, you would...," or gets too serious about the relationship too fast?
...abuses drugs or alcohol and pressures you to use them?
...blames you for mistreating him, saying you provoked a violent outburst?
...has a history of bad relationships and blames other people for all the problems?
...isolates you from friends or family?
...reads your mail or your personal journal without your permission?
There are many kinds of abuse, from "joking" remarks about women to forced sex, slapping, and threatening behaviour. Emotional abuse can be particularly confusing, especially when it takes the form of friendly "playing around". Teasing is a good example. If you feel embarassed, hurt, humiliated, or inadequate as a result of your partner's comments, you are being emotionally abused.
Do you make sacrifices to be in your relationships, such as giving up friends, activities, interests, ambitions you once had? Do you find yourself walking on eggshells around your partner, rehearsing what you will say, always making excuses for unacceptable behaviour. Do you find yourself trying to predict your partner's mood and how to make things better? Do you blame yourself for abusive actions directed at you? Do friends and family express concern about your relationship? These are all signs that you may be in an unhealthy relationship.
If your intimate or dating partner is abusive, it's important to take it seriously. It means your partner is trying to control you, and there's a good chance it will get worse unless you do something about it.
If you partner is hurting you and you're not sure what to do about it, an excellent first step is to reach out to people who can help you, and give you honest feedback: a counsellor or a good friend.
Recognize that you are not responsible for someone else's behaviour.
Consider your options: should you stay or leave - remember that abusive behaviour rarely changes by itself. If you decide to leave, evaluate your safety: will your partner be angry and perhaps violent when you decide to leave? If you fear for your safety, talk to a professional right away.