November is Woman Abuse Awareness Month in Canada. Although some may refer to it as ‘domestic violence’, abuse has a much wider scope. Of course we’re concerned when it becomes violent, but other abusive behaviours can be equally impacting, and can be the harbingers of physical violence. It’s time we started to take notice.
Emotional abuse is likely the most common. It includes: controlling what someone says and does, insulting, blaming, shaming and stalking. Financial abuse is when the partner not only manages the money, but also prevents access to it. Harassing someone at work or damaging their credit score are also forms of financial abuse. Sexual abuse includes coercing someone to perform sexual acts with which they are not comfortable or when they are unable or afraid to refuse. It also includes physically hurting a partner during sex. Technological abuse is the stalking of someone via their phone, computer, and social media.
Each of these behaviours can be precursors to physical abuse. I’m not saying that every time a man calls his wife a derogatory name, or berates her for spending too much that he’s a woman abuser. He’s probably just a jerk who needs some sensitivity training.
What I am saying is this: If your partner frequently behaves in these manners, then he is abusive. If your partner controls your activity, if your partner bullies you, or if you are afraid of your partner; then you are likely being abused. When my ex-husband did these things, I sloughed it off. I thought it was his problem and not mine…until it was too late.
I was a victim then. Now I am a survivor. Take notice. Reach out. If you know anyone who is experiencing these behaviours from their partners, talk to them about it. Help them be aware and be there for them. If you are the woman who is experiencing these behaviours, get help. Be safe.