Peace River Victim Services

Definition of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Information Sheet Patterns of Abuse How to Leave an Abusive Partner Victims of Stalking/Harassment

Domestic Violence

is defined as any use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse through the use of assaultive and controlling behavior. The pattern of abuse may include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Criminal harassment (stalking)
  • Threats to harm children, other family members, pets, and property

The violence is used to intimidate, humiliate or frighten a partner of an intimate relationship, or to make them powerless.

Intimate Relationship is defined as between opposite-sex or same-sex partners. These relationships vary in duration and legal formality, and include:

  • Current and former dating relationships
  • Current and former common-law relationships
  • Current and former married relationships
  • Persons who are the parents of one or more children, regardless of their marital status or whether they have lived together at any time

Domestic violence is also commonly referred to as:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Domestic assault
  • Domestic conflict
  • Spousal abuse
  • Spousal assault
  • Battering
  • Intimate partner abuse
  • Intimate partner assault
  • Relationship abuse
  • Family violence


Domestic Violence Information Sheet

  • Domestic Violence is abuse between couples
  • Women in Alberta experience the highest stalking rate in Canada
  • Alberta has a higher proportion of cases involving domestic violence against women than any other province
  • In Canada the health related cost of domestic violence against women is $1.15 billion per year, including medical and psychiatric costs
  • Family Violence isolates children, damages self-esteem and can spawn psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, feelings of guilt and suicidal tendencies. Growing up in a violent home can lead some people to turn against their own children when they become parents or to abuse their adult partners
  • Violence experienced by women tends to be more severe and more repeated than violence directed at men
  • Women experience higher levels of certain types of emotional abuse such as: being threatened with harm or someone close to them being harmed, being denied access to family finances, having possessions destroyed, being isolated from family and friends and/or being called names and being subject to put downs
  • Domestic violence can have a devastating effect upon the victim, families and children who witness or live with the consequences of that violence
  • Domestic violence is a learned behaviour
  • The victim's behaviour is often a way of ensuring survival
  • Victims of violence may even initiate violence in an effort to get imminent violence over with, as a reaction to past abuse or to deflect the abuse away from children
  • Leaving a domestic violence relationship is a process, not an event
  • A person who is being abused may endure the abuse for a long time before seeking support, but the majority of abuse is never reported; 80% of women in shelters have no plans to report the abuse to police
  • There are seven types of abuse in Domestic Violence Relationships: Physical, Sexual, Financial, Emotional, Psychological, Spiritual and Threat of Abandonment. They are used to intimidate, humiliate or frighten a partner or make them feel powerless
  • Emotional Abuse is commonly defined as the systematic tearing down of another human being and is based on power and control over another person. It is harder to define and diagnose and is a behaviour that diminishes the other person's identity, dignity, self-worth and self-perception
  • Emotional abuse often accompanies other forms of abuse, but may also occur alone
  • Children who see their mother being abused are also victims of emotional abuse
  • Physical Abuse is the most visible form of abuse, but is often dismissed as frequent accidents or clumsiness
  • The longer the physical abuse continues, the more serious the injuries become and the more difficult it is to eliminate the abusive behaviour
  • It is believed that three out of five children in every classroom have witnessed their mother being assaulted.

Victims of Family Violence - Information and Rights


Children Are Affected by Family Violence. They might:

Internalize: Exhibit hyperactive or lethargic behaviour, become overly sensitive, have poor concentration, withdraw into self, be depressed, feel sad, feel unworthy, blame self for family problems, be very compliant, get good grades, suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, have stomach aches/headaches/sleep problems, have anxiety or panic attacks, have trouble keeping or getting along with friends, have self destructive thoughts or actions.

Externalize: Exhibit physical or verbally aggressive behaviour, complain of pains when moving or being touched, have difficulty getting along with others, become insensitive to others, be easily distracted or hyper, feel angry most of the time, feel rage, brag excessively, blame others, develop ADD/ADHD, develop a Conduct Disorder or experience Post traumatic Stress Disorder


What You Can Do?

As a Victim: Remember you are not alone, that it is not your fault, you should talk to someone you trust, find help and advice in your community

As an outsider: Listen to the victims, believe the victims, support them, inform them of available services in their community and hotlines, report suspected child abuse or neglect to a child welfare agency.

Why does violence happen? People are not "born angry". Violent behaviour is often modelled for us within our families, our community or through the media. Violence does NOT usually occur because of a lack of caring. It is often the result of feeling out of control. Violence becomes a way of regaining some control.

Can it be stopped? Family violence can become a way of life, but the pattern can be broken. It need not reach the point where the police, children services or the justice system have to become involved. Learn a healthier way to share the worries, anger and joy of being a family.


Support Services in your Community:

Peace River Regional Women's Shelter 1-877-624-6626
Peace Regional Victim Services 780-624-6626
Stepping Up - Domestic Violence Treatment Program 780-624-8235
PACE Sexual Assault Centre Grande Prairie 780-539-6692
Peace Country Sexual Assault Help Line 1-888-387-5437
Mental Health Services Peace River 780-624-6151
Sex Assault Centre of Edmonton 780-423-4121
Saffron Sex Assault Centre 780-423-4121

Peace Regional Victim Services has an extensive amount of information in regards to all types of abuse, safety plans and personal security. Our services and resources are confidential and free of charge.

The Patterns of Abuse

  • As your partner got to know you better, did he or she lose his or her temper more often?
  • Did your partner strike or throw objects, and then seek forgiveness from you, claiming such actions were out of character?
  • Did your partner begin to criticize you for trivial things?
  • Were you accused of trying to irritate them?
  • Were your outside friends carefully monitored?
  • Would an innocent glance or dance trigger a jealous rage and attempts to restrict your contact with others?
  • Do you feel like a prisoner in your own home?
  • Have you had or thought about having an affair?

Physical abuse may follow verbal abuse, especially if you defend yourself. You may be confused as to what to do since the abuser often apologizes for the behavior and promises never to hurt you again. Though enjoyable, these honeymoon-like periods of remorse don't last long because your partner is an emotionally disturbed person attempting to act normally. You will eventually be forced to make some very serious decisions when it becomes obvious they are simply unable or unwilling to control themselves.

You must honestly judge the future of your relationship, bearing in mind your partner is convinced his or her feelings, words, and actions are justified. Your partner likely believes your relationship would run smoothly if you would just let them take charge of your life.
Your partner's words and actions are strongly influenced by powerful emotions over which he or she has little control.

Such people often abuse alcohol and drugs, have very serious personality problems and have witnessed violence in their early years. As they may have been a victim of abuse as well, change is unlikely unless they obtain counselling to address these issues. Though they need to be encouraged to move in this direction, you may be the last person they will listen to. They may even feel compelled to do the opposite of what is being asked, regardless of the consequences.


How to Leave an Abusive Partner

Most of us prefer to love and be loved within a relationship. Sadly, our need for affection, friendship and security can cloud our judgment when abuse has crept into the relationship.

Leaving Safely

It's time to think about these questions. Your escape plan will depend on the answers.

  • Where will you live and how will you support yourself?
  • When and how will you let your partner know you are leaving?
  • If there are children involved, what will you say to them?
  • If there are weapons handy, what can you do about them?
  • Will Social Services, the Police and or legal Aid be able to help you?
  • Do you know how to obtain a Restraining Order or Peace Bond?
  • What support is available from your local Mental Health Clinic?
  • Will someone be available to help you move your belongings?

After You Leave

After you have left, don't allow yourself to be manipulated by expressions of affection without concrete actions. Your leaving may persuade the person to take responsibility for their conduct. If you see consistent change and believe there is hope, have them arrange individual or marital counselling. Practice birth-control strictly if you can, as you may surrender to physical desires and loneliness.

Ending a relationship, even an abusive one, has serious emotional consequences. Join a support group if available. Since abuse damages self-esteem, you may have come to believe your situation is hopeless and escape impossible. With support and consistent effort, you are capable of building a bridge over the gap separating you from the life you deserve.


 Tips for victims of Stalking, Harassment and/or Domestic Violence

  • Try to avoid any situation that could escalate into abuse by leaving when you first begin to suspect that things are going to get out of control
  • Don't run to where the children are as this may put them in danger as well
  • Know where the nearest pay phone is. Change is not required for the operator or 911
  • Plan what to do if your partner learns of your plans to leave, either from the children or in some other way
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway, keeping a full tank of gas and leaving only the driver's door unlocked
  • Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you
  • Create plausible excuses for leaving the house at different times of the day or night
  • Keep a journal of all violent incidents, noting dates, events and threats made, if possible. Use an Incident and Behaviour Log

When you leave or if you do not live together

  • Rent a private post office box, but be aware that your address will appear on restraining orders & police reports
  • Be careful who you give your new address and phone number to and ask that they do not store the information in address books, rolodex or on computer devices
  • Don't get subscriptions sent to your home address, use the PO Box instead
  • Put your PO Box on your Driver's License & don't show it to just anyone
  • Consider moving your children to a different school
  • Reschedule appointments that the offender is aware of
  • Use different stores & frequent different social spots
  • Call the phone company & request caller ID. Ask that your phone number be blocked so if you call anyone they cannot see your new number
  • Avoid calling 800, 888 or 900 numbers as your phone number will be captured on an Automatic Number Identification service and will appear on their phone bill. If you must call toll free, try to use a pay phone
  • Have your name removed from all reverse directories
  • Avoid using your middle initial as it can help identify you from a list of people with your name
  • Don't put your name on the list of tenants on the front of the building where you live
  • Be very protective of your Social Insurance Number as it is a key to much of your personal information
  • Alert the 2 credit bureaus - Equifax and Trans Union - of your situation. Ask them to flag your records to avoid fraudulent access
  • If you are having problems with harassing phone calls, put a beep tone on your line so callers think they are being recorded. Use an answering machine to screen your calls and put a bluff message on your machine that warns callers of possible taping or monitoring
  • Change your e-mail address
  • Consider getting professional counselling and/or seek help from a victims support group. They can help you deal with fear, anxiety & depression

If you stay and your partner leaves

  • Install solid core doors with dead bolts
  • Change all the locks and install locks on the windows
  • If residing in an apartment with an on-site manager, inform him/her of your situation and provide a photo of your abuser

Incident and Behaviour Log

  • A stalking log should be used to record & document all related behaviours, including harassing phone calls, letters, e-mails, vandalism & threats communicated directly or through third parties.
  • When reporting incidents to law enforcement, always write down the officer's name and badge number for your own records. Even if they do not make an arrest you can ask them to do a written report and give you a copy for your records
  • As your log can be introduced as evidence in the future, do not include information you do not want the offender to see
  • Do not tell the offender about the log and do not tell others where it is kept
  • Attach a photo of the offender, any restraining orders, police reports and other relevant documents.