Partners & FAQ
How can abusers change?
- Admitting fully to what they have done
- Stopping excuses and blaming
- Making amends
- Accepting responsibility and recognizing that abuse is a choice
- Identifying patterns of controlling behavior they use and the attitudes that drive their abuse
- Accepting that overcoming abusiveness is a decades-long process — not declaring themselves “cured”
- Not treating improvements as vouchers to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (ex. “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so it’s not a big deal.”)
- Developing respectful, kind, supportive behaviors
- Carrying their weight and sharing power
- Changing how they act in heated conflicts
- Accepting the consequences of their actions (including not feeling sorry for themselves about the consequences, and not blaming their partner or children for them)
What is physical abuse?
- Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
- Forbidding you from eating or sleeping
- Hurting you with weapons
- Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
- Harming your children
- Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
- Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
- Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past)
What is emotional abuse?
- Calling you names, insulting you or continually criticizing you
- Refusing to trust you and acting jealous or possessive
- Trying to isolate you from family or friends
- Monitoring where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
- Demanding to know where you are every minute
- Trapping you in your home or preventing you from leaving
What is sexual abuse?
- Forcing you to dress in a sexual way
- Insulting you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
- Forcing or manipulating you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
- Holding you down during sex
- Demanding sex when you’re sick, tired or after hurting you
- Hurting you with weapons or objects during sex
- Involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will
- Ignoring your feelings regarding sex
- Forcing you to watch pornography
- Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you
- Making you feel like you owe them — ex. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift
- Giving you drugs and alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
- Playing on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me,” “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
- Reacting negatively with sadness, anger or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
- Continuing to pressure you after you say no
- Making you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
- Trying to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”
Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is coercion in itself. Dating someone, being in a relationship, or being married never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.
- Using weapons to threaten to hurt you
- Punishing you by withholding affection
- Threatening to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets
- Damaging your property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
- Humiliating you in any way
- Blaming you for the abuse
- Accusing you of cheating and being often jealous of your outside relationships
- Serially cheating on you and then blaming you for his or her behavior
- Cheating on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatening to cheat again
- Cheating to prove that they are more desired, worthy, etc. than you are
- Attempting to control your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
- Telling you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them
What is financial abuse?
- Giving an allowance and closely watching how you spend it or demanding receipts for purchases
- Placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it
- Preventing you from viewing or having access to bank accounts
- Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work
- Maxing out credit cards in your name without permission or not paying the bills on credit cards, which could ruin your credit score
- Stealing money from you or your family and friends
- Using funds from children’s savings accounts without your permission
- Living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household
- Making you give them your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns
- Refusing to give you money to pay for necessities/shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, or medical care and medicine
What is cyber abuse
- Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
- Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online.
- Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on you.
- Puts you down in their status updates.
- Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
- Pressures you to send explicit videos.
- Steals or insists on being given your passwords.
- Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
- Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls.
- Tags you unkindly in pictures on Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
- Uses any kind of technology (such spyware or GPS in a car or on a phone) to monitor you
You never deserve to be mistreated, online or off. Remember:
- Your partner should respect your relationship boundaries.
- It is ok to turn off your phone. You have the right to be alone and spend time with friends and family without your partner getting angry.
- You do not have to text any pictures or statements that you are uncomfortable sending, especially nude or partially nude photos, known as “sexting.”
- You lose control of any electronic message once your partner receives it. They may forward it, so don’t send anything you fear could be seen by others.
- You do not have to share your passwords with anyone.
- Know your privacy settings. Social networks such as Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. These are often customizable and are found in the privacy section of the site. Remember, registering for some applications (apps) require you to change your privacy settings.
- Be mindful when using check-ins like Facebook Places and foursquare. Letting an abusive partner know where you are could be dangerous. Also, always ask your friends if it’s ok for you to check them in. You never know if they are trying to keep their location secret.
- You have the right to feel comfortable and safe in your relationship, even online.
What is a healthy relationship?
Does each partner get the space they need to live healthy lives as individuals?
As great as it is to want to spend time with your partner, it’s important to have some time away from each other, too. It’s not healthy for either partner to try to set limits or use guilt or pressure to control where their partner goes or who they spend time with. Everyone should feel free to spend time alone or with friends and family without having to get permission from their partner or check in and explain their whereabouts. If boundaries around personal space are not being respected, that may be a sign that one or both partners is having trouble with trust.
What does trust mean?
Trust is an important part of a healthy relationship, but it’s something that many people struggle with, for a lot of different reasons. What does trust mean? Trusting someone means that you think they are reliable, you have confidence in them and you feel safe with them physically and emotionally. Trust is something that two people in a relationship can build together when they decide to trust each other. You can’t demand or prove trust; trusting someone is a choice that you make.
Is intimacy comfortable and consensual at all times?
Sexual consent is absolutely essential in a relationship, whether you’re just starting to date or you’ve been married for years. Sex should never feel obligatory, and you should always feel that your partner cares about your comfort and boundaries. Everyone has different backgrounds, desires, and comfort levels when it comes to intimacy, sex and methods of protection. It’s important to feel comfortable communicating your boundaries around intimacy and to trust that your partner will always respect them.
It can help to talk with your partner about boundaries and expectations around sex before you’re in the moment, as well as talking about how you’d like to communicate with each other in the moment to make sure you are both aware of each other’s boundaries throughout. While discussing boundaries beforehand can help, even in the moment you always have the right to set boundaries or change your mind. People’s levels of comfort and desire change, so it should never be assumed that just because someone was okay with something in the past, they will always be okay with it. No matter how long you’ve been with someone or how many times you’ve done something, you have the right to say no at anytime for any reason. Learn more about consent in a healthy relationship here.
Is there mutual respect for privacy?
Everyone has the right to privacy, and that’s not something you should have to give up to be in a relationship. While it’s okay to share personal information like passwords to social media, bank accounts, email, phone, etc. if you wish to, it should never feel required and it’s completely reasonable to keep those private. Having access to another’s personal accounts or information also doesn’t give anyone the right to look through them without the owner’s permission. Even if you have shared passwords with your partner, you have every right to expect them to respect your privacy and boundaries. Leaving your private accounts open is never an invitation to invade your privacy. Talking with your partner about what you do and don’t wish to share can be a great way to lay some ground rules around privacy.
Do you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries without getting angry or making each other feel bad?
As we’ve said, everyone has the right to set boundaries. You should always feel comfortable communicating your boundaries to your partner without being afraid of how they’ll react. Personal boundaries shouldn’t feel like castle walls during a siege. Once you have set boundaries, you shouldn’t feel like you have to actively defend or reiterate them to have them be respected by your partner, and vice versa. In a healthy relationship, both people want their partner to feel happy, respected and comfortable and they use knowledge of each other’s boundaries to help them understand how to keep the relationship happy and healthy. Using pressure, making you feel guilty, or arguing with you about whether your boundaries are reasonable is not respectful or healthy. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe setting boundaries, or your boundaries are not being respected by your partner, that can be a red flag for unhealthy or abusive dynamics in the relationship. Learn more about red flags for abuse here.
What is physical child abuse?
28.3% of adults report being physically abused as a child. Physical abuse includes striking, kicking, burning, biting, hair pulling, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping or any other action that injures a child. Even if the caregiver didn’t mean to cause injury, when the child is injured it is abuse. Physical discipline from a parent that do not injure or impair a child is not considered abuse; however non-violent alternatives are always available.
Physical abuse can result in
- Bruises, blisters, burns, cuts and scratches
- Internal injuries, brain damage
- Broken bones, sprains, dislocated joints
- Emotional and psychological harm
- Lifelong injury, death
Signs of physical abuse in parent or caregiver
- Can’t or won’t explain injury of child, or explains it in a way that doesn’t make sense
- Displays aggression to child or is overly anxious about child’s behavior
- Indicates child is not trustworthy, a liar, evil, a troublemaker
- Delays or prevents medical care for child
- Takes child to different doctors or hospitals
- Keeps child from school, church, clubs
- Has history of violence and/or abuse
Signs of physical abuse in a child
- Any injury to a child who is not crawling yet
- Visible and severe injuries
- Injuries at different stages of healing
- On different surfaces of the body
- Unexplained or explained in a way that doesn’t make sense
- Distinctive shape
- Frequency, timing and history of injuries (frequent, after weekends, vacations, school absences)
- Aggression toward peers, pets, other animals
- Seems afraid of parents or other adults
- Fear, withdrawal, depression, anxiety
- Wears long sleeves out of season
- Violent themes in fantasy, art, etc.
- Nightmares, insomnia
- Reports injury, severe discipline
- Immaturity, acting out, emotional and behavior extremes
- Self-destructive behavior or attitudes
What is sexual child abuse?
20.7% of adults report being sexually abused as a child.
Sexual abuse of children includes
- Non-contact abuse
- Making a child view a sex act
- Making a child view or show sex organs
- Inappropriate sexual talk
- Contact abuse
- Fondling and oral sex
- Making children perform a sex act
- Child prostitution and child pornography
Signs of sexual abuse in parent or caregiver
- Parent fails to supervise child
- Unstable adult presence
- Jealous/possessive parent
- Sexual relationships troubled or dysfunctional
- Parent relies on child for emotional support
Signs of sexual abuse in a child
- Difficulty sitting, walking, bowel problems
- Torn, stained, bloody undergarments
- Bleeding, bruises, pain, swelling, itching of genital area
- Frequent urinary tract infections or yeast infections
- Any sexually transmitted disease or related symptoms
- Doesn’t want to change clothes (e.g., for P.E.)
- Withdrawn, depressed, anxious
- Eating disorders, preoccupation with body
- Aggression, delinquency, poor peer relationships
- Poor self-image, poor self-care, lack of confidence
- Sudden absenteeism, decline in school performance
- Substance abuse, running away, recklessness, suicide attempts
- Sleep disturbance, fear of bedtime, nightmares, bed wetting (at advanced age)
- Sexual acting out, excessive masturbation
- Unusual or repetitive soothing behaviors (hand-washing, pacing, rocking, etc.)
- Sexual behavior or knowledge that is advanced or unusual
- Reports sexual abuse
What is emotional child abuse?
10.6% of adults report being emotionally abused as a child.
Emotional abuse can include
- Rejecting or ignoring: telling a child he or she is unwanted or unloved, showing little interest in child, not initiating or returning affection, not listening to the child, not validating the child’s feelings, breaking promises, cutting child off in conversation
- Shaming or humiliating: calling a child names, criticizing, belittling, demeaning, berating, mocking, using language or taking action that takes aim at child’s feelings of self-worth
- Terrorizing: accusing, blaming, insulting, punishing with or threatening abandonment, harm or death, setting a child up for failure, manipulating, taking advantage of a child’s weakness or reliance on adults, slandering, screaming, yelling
- Isolating: keeping child from peers and positive activities, confining child to small area, forbidding play or other stimulating experiences
- Corrupting: engaging child in criminal acts, telling lies to justify actions or ideas, encouraging misbehavior
Signs of emotional abuse in parent or caregiver
- Routinely ignores, criticizes, yells at or blames child
- Plays favorites with one sibling over another
- Poor anger management or emotional self-regulation
- Stormy relationships with other adults, disrespect for authority
- History of violence or abuse
- Untreated mental illness, alcoholism or substance abuse
Signs of emotional abuse in a child
- Delays in development
- Wetting bed, pants
- Speech disorders
- Health problems like ulcers, skin disorders
- Obesity and weight fluctuation
- Habits like sucking, biting, rocking
- Learning disabilities and developmental delays
- Overly compliant or defensive
- Extreme emotions, aggression, withdrawal
- Anxieties, phobias, sleep disorders
- Destructive or anti-social behaviors (violence, cruelty, vandalism, stealing, cheating, lying)
- Behavior that is inappropriate for age (too adult, too infantile)
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
I've been abusive to my partner. Can you help me?
What will an advocate recommend?
Depending on what you’re reaching out to us about, our advocates will talk to you about different courses of action. If throughout the call you and the advocate are beginning to identify unhealthy behaviors in your relationship, they’ll discuss these red flags with you and then brainstorm healthy alternatives for the behavior.
They’ll talk about strategies for calming down and deescalating if you feel yourself getting angry, and discuss how your actions can negatively affect you and those around you.
Can I really call without being judged?
How to understand your child's needs?
Babies behave as they do to get their needs met. For example, when they cry they’re trying to tell you that they need something – maybe they’re hungry, need their nappy changed or feel tired.
Older babies may show what appears like a ‘stubborn streak’ – spitting out food or wriggling away from a nappy change. All they are doing is trying to express their likes and dislikes in the only way they can.
When you’re stressed you may feel your baby is being “deliberately naughty” or trying to provoke you. This is not possible. Remember you should never shout, scream, hit or smack a baby.
All toddlers test limits and have tantrums. Research shows that a child’s brain is still developing during this period so there are limits to how much they’re able to control their emotions. Remember that behaviour in toddlers which is often seen as naughty is actually quite normal and part of growing up.
School age children
School age children are constantly learning and exploring their world. They may have lots of questions as they start to form their own views on issues. As they move towards being more independent they may seem to push boundaries and become more challenging, a necessary part of growing up.
As children continue to develop their own identities in their teenage years, they might become more challenging – sometimes seeming “moody” or withdrawn or not as talkative and open as their parents would like. They might be more inclined to disagree with their parents, or choose different views. Friends (and celebrities) will become a bigger influence and your child may not always do what you would like.
How can I set boundaries?
- Keep guidance simple and consistent.
- If your child is behaving in a way you don’t want them to, clearly explain what you want them to do instead.
- Be available and make time so your child will come to you when they feel something is wrong or they are upset.
- Keep talking and listening to your child even if at times it feels like a challenge. Start listening from a very early age and set a pattern for life.
- Review family rules as your child gets older and recognize the different needs of children living at home. For example, you shouldn’t expect the same from your 12 year-old as you would from your four year-old.
- Get support from friends and try any good ideas they have found helpful.
- If you are struggling and things are getting out of hand, get advice from your GP, a health visitor, or your child’s teacher.
- Introduce boundaries from an early age.
- Sympathise with how your child may be feeling – for example, saying “I know you are frustrated”, if your child is struggling to do something.
- Share your own feelings if you find it helps to relieve your stress – for example, “I know you’re tired but I’m tired too”.
- Try to avoid using orders and ultimatums.
- Be willing and give your child chances to show they can be trusted.
- Avoid criticism wherever possible. If your child has done something wrong, explain that it is the action and not them that you’re unhappy with.
- Try to avoid getting trapped in petty arguments, there are rarely any winners!
- Consider ways to negotiate or offer choices as your child gets older.
How to discipline and reward your child?
Only you will know what works for your child but here are some helpful points to think about.
- Praise children, even for the little things they do.
- Reward positive behaviour and consider asking what would be a good reward.
- Avoid making rash decisions when you’re angry
Ideas on bringing up children have changed, and we now know a lot more about the effects of smacking. Smacking can hurt children’s feelings – making them resentful and angry, and damaging the relationship between parent and child. This makes parenting and discipline harder in the long run, not easier. Smacking can get out of control.
This also comes back to being a role model. If you smack your child, they may think this is acceptable behaviour and treat other people in the same way.
Children may avoid being smacked by lying or hiding how they feel. And they may become withdrawn – not developing independence.
When you give out love, you get it back. When you give out harsh punishment – screaming, yelling or hitting – this means you are eventually likely to get anger and resentment back. Finding the right balance of rewards and discipline is a key part of positive parenting.
- Talk to your child about the rewards and consequences of their behaviour, and do it before rather than after.
- Take time to really listen to what your children are saying and explain to them what you are feeling.
- Be a role model and don’t do things that you wouldn’t want your children to do.
Here at Safe Statia Portal, we are grateful for our partners who help us make a significant contribution to help the victims of domestic violence and child abuse. Our shared vision of ending awful situations in our community, makes us a proud organization.
- Public Health (Social Work)
- Mental Health CN
- Schools, daycares, hospital, churches, sport and cultural clubs