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Is His Behaviour Abusive?

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467483While this may seem obvious, sometimes it isn’t. The dynamics of abuse are complex and often very subtle. What may begin as a loving relationship in which a woman feels loved and protected, can begin to shift through her partner’s intentional tactics to establish and maintain power and control. And it’s often very hard to see what’s happening or that his behaviour is abusive, especially when women are given flowers or treated to dinner, times when she may recognize the man she fell in love with.


If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t feel good or respectful, here are some questions you can ask. Has your partner ever:

  • Kicked, slapped, hit, punched or otherwise physically hurt you?
  • Forced you into sex against your will?
  • Made you feel down or bad about yourself?
  • Made you feel frightened by what he does or says – like threatening body language, punching walls or threatening to hurt or kill you, your children, family or pets?
  • Checked up on you constantly and behaved very jealously?
  • Isolated you from your family, friends and outside activities?
  • Blamed you or others for his mistakes and choices?
  • Abused drugs or alcohol and used it as an excuse for his behaviour?
  • Had unrealistic expectations for you – expecting you to meet all his needs and be the perfect partner?
  • Manipulated you or others when he didn’t get his way by acting hurt and upset?
  • Held you against your will and kept you from leaving a room?
  • Called you names and put you down?
  • Abused or acted cruelly towards animals?
  • Behaved in a moody way – switching from being friendly to exploding in anger?
  • Abused children?
  • Hurt or been controlling to past partners?

While most abuse occurs in intimate heterosexual relationships, it can occur in gay and lesbian relationships as well. The questions here are equally applicable.

Statistics show that women under the age of 25, women living with a disability, aboriginal women and women living common-law are at a higher risk of abuse.
(Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile 2005, Statistics Canada)


If you recognize that your behaviour is controlling and abusive, there are supports to help you build healthy and strong families. Contact:

  • Changing Ways: 519-438-9869


If you answered yes to some of these questions, you are likely in an abusive relationship. Call to speak with someone. There is help.

  • Abused Women’s 24 hr hotline: 1-800-265-1576
  • Assaulted Women’s Hotline: 1-866-863-0511
  • Distress Centre Helpline: 519-667-6711
  • London Abused Women’s Centre: 519-432-2204
  • Regional Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Treatment Centre: 519-646-6100, x 64224
  • Rothholme Women’s & Family Shelter: 519-673-4114
  • Sexual Assault Centre London: 519-438-2272
  • SOS Femmes: 1-800-387-8603
  • Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000
  • Women’s Community House (Shelter): 24 hr crisis line, 1-800-265-1576
  • Women’s Rural Resource Centre (Shelter) – Strathroy: 1-800-265-5390
  • Zhaawanong Shelter (native): 519-432-2270