Domestic Violence

Welcome to the Domestic Violence department of Divorce and FamilyLawService Center. Here we will discuss what domestic violence means, who it involves, and what it looks like. We will also touch on some warning signs to look for if domestic violence is suspected. Please visit our Child Abuse department for information on domestic abuse and children.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is considered behaviour and actions that one person exhibits to gain control over another person in the relationship. Domestic violence takes on many forms of abuse from physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse to threats, intimidation, harassment, and stalking.

Victims of Domestic Violence

Most often victims of domestic violence are associated with women. A new government survey recently released showed that a startling 1 in 4 women say they have suffered domestic violence from a husband or boyfriend. Two people do not have to be married for the abuse to be classified as domestic violence. Heterosexual, gay, lesbian, dating, roommates, aging parents; all these types of partnerships could cross the line into domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Behaviours

Domestic violence behaviours that gain or maintain control over another person can take many forms. Sometimes people do not realize they are exhibiting controlling behaviour. Similarly, the victim may not know they are being controlled. Knowledge can help relationships, people, and our society grow. The following are common examples of domestic violence.

Physical abuse can include any behaviour involving the victim’s body as in punching, hitting, slapping, throwing, burning, tying up, pinching, and forcing somebody to use drugs or alcohol. Denying another person medical treatment can also fall in this category.

Emotional abuse occurs when the victim’s sense of self, self-esteem, and self-worth are belittled and invalidated. Often, constant name calling and criticism are taking place, making the victim feel incapable.

Sexual abuse happens when the victim is forced or coerced into performing sex or sexual acts without their consent. Sometimes physical abuse can be followed by sexual abuse. Other symptoms may range from marital rape, sexually demeaning the victim, attacks on the sexual parts of the body of the victim, all the way to telling sexual jokes at the expense of the victim.

Financial abuse may include controlling the victims access to money and other resources, keeping the victim from getting a job or going to school, and interrupting the victim’s abilities to continue to work and get an education.

Threats and intimidation to use violent behaviour, to limit access to resources, or to limit access to friends and family may fall under the category of psychological abuse.

Harassment and stalking is behaviour that typically if it happened only once would not cross legal lines. But continually calling, emailing, text messaging, sending gifts, showing up at work or home, leaving written notes can involve criminal behaviour. Spying on or following someone could also constitute illegal behaviour.


If you or someone you love is involved in a domestic violence situation, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800-799-SAFE (7233).