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Defining Abuse

Gender-based violence and abuse can happen to anyone, and you may or may not be aware of it.  It is often overlooked, excused, minimized, or denied. Learn to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship.

If you recognize yourself or sometone you know in the definitions below, reach out. Help is available. No one should live in fear! 

Gender-based violence and abuse: Behaviours used to gain and maintain total control over you. A person that abuses will use fear, guilt, shame and intimidation to wear you down and assert control. The abuser may also threaten you, hurt you or hurt those around you. 

The information below provides examples for different types of abuse:  

Emotional abusename calling, constant criticism, putdowns, blaming, and mocking. 

Physical abusehitting, choking, shoving, slapping, kicking, being injured with a weapon or object, and forcing consumption of drugs or alcohol. 

Psychological abusethreatening harm to you, others, self and pets, humiliation, harassment, damaging possessions, withholding food or medication, locking out of the home, obsessive jealousy, telling someone they aren’t lovable, and manipulation to cause confusion and doubt. 

Financial abusewithholding money, not allowing paid work, opening separate bank accounts, and financial dishonesty. 

Sexual abuse: forcing unwanted sexual activity or touching, criticism of performance, unwanted sexual aggression.  

Spiritual abuse: forcing, mocking or denying spiritual beliefs onto another person.  Using spiritual or religious practice to control another person and make them feel bad or guilty.   

Digital abuse:  controlling social media sites and passwords, monitoring phone activity, and writing or exposing humiliating information online. 

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help. 

Gender-based abuse often gets worse over time. It hurts the person experiencing it and those who witness it, leaving possible lasting effects. Abusive relationships can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.  People experiencing violence often feel helpless and alone.  If you or someone you know is experiencing this, GET HELP. 

Signs of Abuse

Does your partner abuse you in any of the following ways?
  • Puts you down by calling you stupid, ugly, fat or crazy  
  • Refuses money for food, rent, clothes, bills
  • Keeps you from family and friends  
  • Threatens violence against you or your children if you try to leave, tell or get help  
  • Destroys your personal things 
  • Harms or threatens to harm your pet(s) 
  • Slaps, trips, punches, burns, pushes, kicks, chokes you or throws things at you  
  • Forces you to have sex  
  • Threatens to have you deported 
It’s not your fault. 
Women often blame themselves for their partner’s abusive behaviour. You are not responsible for your partner’s actions, your partner is the only one who can change the behaviour. 

You may be staying because: 

  • You believe your children are better off living with two parents  
  • You still love your partner and hope for change  
  • You do not know where to find help/support  
  • You have little or no money  
  • You feel helpless and hopeless 
  • You believe you have no place to go 
  • You fear your partner will take revenge against you or your children 
Get Safe – Get Help! 
Hiatus House Crisis line: 519-252-7781

Safety Planning

Putting first things first starts with keeping safe!

In an emergency use the safety list on the “Get Help” tab below.

For additional resources and information for safety planning please contact the Hiatus House Helpline:

 Keep a suitcase, box or bag where you can get to it quickly and easily. In it, keep as many of the following items as you can:
  1. extra set of keys for the apartment or house and vehicle
  1. small dollar bills and change for taxis and telephone calls
  1. identification papers – passport, social insurance card, birth certificates, immigration papers, citizenship card, aboriginal status card
  1. driver’s license and registration
  1. health cards and children’s immunization records for yourself and children
  1. divorce and custody papers
  1. restraining orders, peace bonds, any other court orders
  1. bank books, cheque book, credit cards, mortgage or loan papers
  1. lease/rental agreement, property deed, business or partnership agreements, rent or mortgage payment receipts
  1. address book
  1. photograph of your (ex) partner to help identify him/her
  1. a list of other items you can pick up later

Statistics | The Facts

 Domestic violence is a gendered crime…
  • Spousal violence has been consistently identified as one of the most common forms of violence against women in Canada.
Women experience more serious forms of spousal assault…
  • Of the homicide cases with domestic violence involvement which occurred in Ontario from 2002 to 2015, 81% of victims were women, 9% were children and 10% were men.
Domestic homicides are more common in certain relationships…
  • Women are six times more likely to be killed by an ex-spouse than a current legally married spouse. In fact, the period immediately after a separation is the most dangerous for abuse victims.
Many incidents of domestic violence are not reported to police…
  • Less than one-third (30%) of female spousal violence victims state that the incident was reported to police (2009), down from 36% in 2004.
Children are affected by domestic violence…
  • Almost 6 in 10 women with children who were assaulted by spouses said their children heard or saw the violent episode (59%) (2009).
Many women rely on women’s shelters to escape domestic violence…
  • In 2017-18 there were over 68,000 admissions of women and children to the 552 shelters in Canada that provided services for abused women. (
Women attempt to leave an abusive relationship a number of times, before finally severing ties…
  • The average woman will make up to five attempts to leave her abuser before ending the relationship permanently.
35% of women begin their new lives in homelessness
  • Transitional housing will help give women and their families a safe place.
Statistics Reference


Get Help

In a crisis situation use the following safety check list: 
  • Dial 9-1-1 – Call the police.
  • Write down – The names of police officers and any instruction given.
  • Save ANY evidence – Collect and try save any evidence of the physical/sexual abuse.
  • Seek Medical Attention
  • Visit Sexual Assault / Domestic Violence Treatment Centreat Windsor Regional Hospital where you can get help with the collection of evidence such as photos, etc.
    Address:  Metropolitan Campus, 4th Floor – 1995 Lens Avenue, Windsor, ON
    Phone 519-254-5577  

Other contacts

Advice & Resources

Getting help starts with the first step. The following numbers are a resource to services and support programs that can help or direct you to find the resources you need.

Hiatus House 24/7 Helpline

Phone: 519-252-7781
Toll Free: 1-800-265-5142
TDD: 519-252-2768
(TDD-Telecommunications Device for the Deaf)

Hiatus House Business Line

Phone: 519-252-1143

Kids Help Phone

Toll Free: 1-800-668-6868

Teen Health Centre

Phone: 519-253-8481

Legal Aid Ontario

Toll Free: 1-800-668-8258
TDD: 1-866-641-8867

Community Legal Aid

Phone: 519-253-7150

Legal Assistance of Windsor

Phone: 519-256-7831

Windsor-Essex Bilingual Legal Clinic

Phone: 519-253-3526
Bell Relay: 1-800-855-0511

Family Law Information Centres (FLICs)

Windsor Phone: 519-973-6620


The following links provide video resources.

“Neighbours, Friends & Families”
Assaulted Women’s Helpline 1-866-863-0511

Friend: “We’re here if you need us”

Angry Man: “Ya, go tell Mommy” I may not live here but it’s still my house. The FOR SALE sign stays, and you’ll live in the streets.”

“Hey. How are you?”

Most Ontarians feel a responsibility to reducing domestic abuse, and recognizing it is the first step. Take the warning signs seriously. Visit for further information, or call the Woman’s Assault Helpline 1-866-863-0511. Or in an emergency, the Police.

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