If you are experiencing abuse in your intimate relationship or marriage, you are not alone and you are not to blame! You may feel shame, isolated, and worried about what other people think. These are all common feelings to have.
No matter what your partner has told you, you deserve to be treated with respect, kindness, and love. No one deserves to be controlled through violent, demeaning, or manipulative actions and words.
If you are unsure as to whether what you are experiencing is abuse, you may want to take some time to read through the ‘How do I know if my relationship is abuse” section and look at some of the resources which may help you to better understand the dynamics in your relationship.
Here are some further steps or options to consider:
- If you are in immediate danger call 911
- Talk to someone you trust who you know will support you and listen non-judgementally ( e.g. crisis line, supportive friend or family member). Click here for a list of crisis numbers categorized by province that you can call to talk to a counsellor free of charge. Also, thehotline.org has a live chat feature.
- Develop a safety plan so that when the abuse escalates you have some strategies for keeping yourself safe.
- Be ware that the pressure on the victim escalates when she/he seeks to make change through disclosure or attempts to get help.
- If you do not feel safe in your home consider staying elsewhere such as at a friend’s home or shelter. Click here for list of shelters in Canada.
- Consider seeing a counsellor who can offer you support and help you better understand your experience. * Couples Counselling is not advised. See Finding A Good Therapist for further suggestions.
- Abuse in an intimate relationship is a crime and the victim has the choice to report to the police (and this can be an agonizing decision). Typically when domestic violence is disclosed to law enforcement the police will investigate and press charges if they have enough reason to believe the violence occurred. Click here more information about making a police report.
- If you need protection from an individual who is abusing or stalking you, another option is to apply for a protection order through the court.
- Look for a support group in your community. MCC B.C. runs support groups throughout the year, and MCC Manitoba offers them to faith communities or groups by request.
Questions to ask a counselor if you are seeking support due to an abusive partner.
- I’m not sure if what is happening to me is actually abuse. My husband/partner/boyfriend has (hit me, threatened me, called me names, pushed me). Would you say this is abuse?
Hitting, threatening, calling names, and pushing are all forms of abuse. If the person who is being abusive is someone you love, it is common to want to make excuses for that behaviour (work stress, business, financial pressure, etc.). No one deserves abuse. The person who is being abused is not responsible for the abuse, the abuser is responsible for his/her own actions.
2. I am nervous that if we come to counselling together, that he will make it sound like everything is my fault and I might not stand up for myself. How will you know if he is telling the truth?
When there is abuse in a relationship, it is typically more effective for couples to go to counselling separately rather than together. Individual confidential counselling with separate therapists provides a safe space for honesty. Some research suggests that couples therapy is effective in situations where there is moderate levels of situational couple violence. However, if the abusive partner’s behavior typifies coercive control, couples counselling is not be a safe or helpful option. It’s unlikely you will feel safe to share openly and the abusive party will likely use the session to manipulate you later.
3.Whom do you believe to be responsible for the abuse?
Often when a person is being abused, they are told over and over that it is their fault that this is happening to them. Rather than the abuser taking responsibility for his/her actions, blame is often placed on the victim. For example, sometimes women will be told the abuse happens because they don’t have good enough boundaries. A good counsellor will recognize that a woman living with abuse is the expert on her own relationship dynamics. Only she will know from her own experiences and gut instincts what responses to the abusive behaviours would be safest for her. Putting up boundaries and standing up to abusive behaviour can be extremely dangerous for women living with abuse.
4. Are you experienced in counselling someone with a faith perspective, or someone who is seriously questioning where God or my beliefs fit in with my experience?
You may not totally share the same faith perspective or belief system as the counsellor you visit. A good therapist will be respectful and understanding of your personal beliefs and faith convictions, even if they are different than yours. If the answers the counsellor gives you are not clear to you, keep asking until you are satisfied.
Call another counsellor:
- if you still don’t really understand what she/he is saying
- if you sense that you are being blamed for what is happening
- if the counsellor believes that part of the responsibility for the violence is yours
- if she/he is justifying your partner’s behaviour (calling it anger, temper, stress, etc., rather than abuse
Other support groups in Manitoba:
- Evolve Family Violence Counselling – Klinic Community Health
- Peace of Mind – Salvation Army
- Domestic Violence Resource Map – Winnipeg
Here are a list of websites that may offer you further help and understanding:
- Learn the basics – FaithTrust
- Shelters in Canada
- Resources and services by province