Harmony House

Women's Shelter

Am I in a
Abusive Relationship?

Am I in a Abusive Relationship?

How to help a friend or family member

  • Be A Friend.
  • Listen, believe them and take it seriously.
  • Talk to someone who can help (Counsellor, teacher, doctor, police etc.)
  • Don’t confront the person who has hurt your friend. It could be dangerous for both of you.
  • Let your friends know that it is not their fault. It is the abuser’s fault.
  • Realize that you can’t make your friend’s choices for them, but they still need your support and friendship.

Harmony House
Resource Guide

Child Safety:
Colouring Book

Books for children who have
experienced/witnessed abuse and violence

Books for children who have experienced/ witnessed abuse and violence

If you are planning to leave a violent or unsafe situation/home, please ensure you
take the following (if possible):

If you are in danger, call 9-1-1

An abuser can often tell when a woman has made up her mind to stop the abuse.
Do not underestimate your abuser. Learn to cover your tracks for the protection of you and your children.
Ontario Assaulted
Women’s Helpline
Sexual Assault
Support Centre
Ottawa Rape
Crisis Centre
Ontario Assaulted
Women’s Helpline
Sexual Assault
Support Centre
Ottawa Rape
Crisis Centre
While assault typically refers to a singular act of violence, abuse is a pattern of harmful and/or violent behaviour. Abuse can take many forms, including:
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Verbal or emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Social abuse
  • Abuse facilitated
  • Harassment and/or stalking
  • Environmental abuse
  • Spiritual or Religious Abuse
Gender-based violence often—but not always—involves some form of sexual violence.
Warning signs of abuse may go unnoticed. Becoming familiar with them will help you assess your own situation or that of someone you may know.
  • Feel like you have to “walk on eggshells” to keep them from getting angry and are frightened by their temper;
  • Feel like you can’t live without them;
  • Stop seeing other friends or family or give up activities you enjoy because they doesn’t like them;
  • Are afraid to tell them your worries and feeling about the relationship;
  • Are often complacent because you are afraid to hurt their feelings and have the urge to “rescue” them when they are in trouble;
  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful all the time;
  • Find yourself apologizing to yourself or others for your partner’s behavior when you are treated badly;
  • Stop expressing opinions if they don’t agree with them;
  • Stay because you feel they will kill themselves if you leave;
  • Believe that their jealousy is a sign of love;
  • Blames you for their violence;
  • Believe the critical things they says to make you feel bad about yourself;
  • Believe that there is something wrong with you if you don’t enjoy the sexual things they make you do;
  • They treat you like you are their property;
  • Begin to wonder if you’re the one who is “crazy”.
Coercive control is a term developed by Evan Stark to help us understand abuse as more than a “fight”. It is a pattern of behaviour that seeks to take away the victim’s liberty or freedom, to strip away their sense of self. It is not just women’s bodily integrity that is violated but also their human rights. It seeks to explain the repeated, ongoing, and intentional control tactics used by perpetrators and the impact of those actions on survivors. Those tactics may be physical, sexual, economic, psychological, legal, institutional, or all of the above.

Some examples of coercive control are:
  • unreasonable and non-negotiable demands;
  • stalking and surveillance;
  • restricting daily activities;
  • manipulation through minimization, denial, lies, promises;
  • controlling access to information and services;
  • threats and negative consequences for non-compliance.

Forms of Abuse

Economic/financial abuse occurs when the perpetrator controls an individual’s financial resources without the person’s consent or misuses those resources.

Here are a few examples:
  • preventing you from having/keeping a job;
  • harassing you at work;
  • controlling your access to finances;
  • taking your money;
  • forcing you to put your names on accounts and then destroying your credit;
  • forcing you to work illegally.
  • slapping, beating, kicking, pushing, biting, spitting;
  • choking, use of weapon;
  • holding you captive;
  • preventing you from eating or sleeping;
  • preventing you from seeking medical care or withholding medications;
  • animal cruelty towards pets.
Emotional abuse occurs when the perpetrator says or does something to make a person feel worthless. It includes but is not limited to;
  • name calling, criticizing;
  • blaming all relationship problems on the person;
  • using silent treatment;
  • jealousy;
  • humiliating and degrading you in front of others;
  • questioning your sanity.
Verbal abuse occurs when the perpetrator uses language, whether written or spoken, to cause harm. It includes but is not limited to:
  • recalling a person’s past mistakes;
  • expressing negative expectations;
  • expressing distrust;
  • yelling, lying, insulting;
  • withholding important information;
  • threats.
Sexual abuse occurs when a person is forced to take part in sexual activity. It includes but is not limited to:
  • withdrawn affection and excessive jealously;
  • demanding sex after a violent incident;
  • forcing unwanted touching or sex;
  • forcing you to engage in prostitution or pornography;
  • refusing safe sex practices;
  • controlling decisions about pregnancy or abortion.
Psychological abuse occurs when the perpetrator uses threats and causes fear in an individual to gain control. It includes but is not limited to:
  • isolation;
  • threats;
  • attacking your vulnerabilities;
  • playing mind games;
  • being unfaithful;
  • always claiming to be right.
Use of technology occurs when the perpetrator uses different forms of technology to locate or harass someone. It includes but is not limited to:
  • monitoring your email communication;
  • sending you repeated email or texts;
  • using your online identity to post false information;
  • using social networking sites to get information about you;
  • using GPS devices to monitor your location.

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