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What is Woman Abuse?

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Woman abuse is the intentional and regular use of tactics to establish and maintain power and control over the thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviours of a woman. It occurs in all socio-economic, educational, and cultural backgrounds. It can also happen within lesbian relationships. It is a misuse of power that manipulates the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the victim vulnerable.

Woman abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Physical abuse: slapping, hitting, punching, biting, pulling hair, burning, use of weapons.
  • Psychological and verbal abuse: threats, name calling, shouting, insults, neglect & isolation, withholding love, intimidation, extreme jealousy, threatening to commit suicide, stalking, controlling your time, what you do, or how you look, not respecting privacy.
  • Sexual abuse: Any forced sexual contact, forced pregnancy or abortion, controlling information or access to birth control, pressure to perform sexual acts with other people.
  • Financial abuse or exploitation: Withholding or controlling access to money, where to work, and what you buy, stealing or taking away benefit payments or personal money, preventing access to household financial information.
  • Spiritual abuse: Putting down or attacking spiritual beliefs, denying access to temple, church or mosque, forced participation in a cult.
  • Workplace violence and harassment: Verbal, written or physical harassment – sexual or otherwise – due to gender, race, sexual orientation or disability.

Woman abuse in adult relationships is generally defined as: The intentional and systematic use of tactics to establish and maintain power and control over the thoughts, beliefs, and conduct of a woman. The tactics can include, but are not limited to, the examples below. [Note: This Power and Control Wheel was originally developed by The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, USA and further adapted by the London Abused Women's Centre.]