What is Domestic/Family Violence

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner or other family member.

If you feel like you have to tread carefully around a family member—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid harmful reactions or harmful behaviours—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include being with someone who belittles you or tries to control you; who actively creates feelings of self-loathing, helplessness and desperation; and/or who harms or assaults you.

Abuse can take many forms, and abusive behaviour is never acceptable—whether it’s coming from an adult, a teenager, or a senior—no matter their gender. You deserve to feel valued, respected and safe.

If you or someone you know is being abused (or you suspect abuse) and you want to talk, seek advice, and find local options, please reach out to Alberta’s Abuse Helpline (available M-F from 7:30 am to 8 pm) at 1-855-4HELPAB (1-855-443-5722). For 24 Hour crisis lines, please refer to our Resources page.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

We define family violence and bullying from a distilled understanding of gender-based violence and the collective agencies with work with in the sector of family violence, including CIAFV and Sagesse. Because we also serve those impacted by bullying, our definitions are inclusive of all these terms:

Family Violence

Family Violence describes a pattern of abusive behaviours within any relationship that is characterized by intimacy, dependency, and/or trust. These abusive behaviours are employed to either induce, gain, or maintain power and control, and/or to instil fear. All forms of abusive behaviour are ways in which one human being is trying to have control and/or exploit or have power over another.

Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse can include punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, or physically restraining a partner against their will. It can also include driving recklessly, invading your physical space, and in any other way that makes you feel physically unsafe.

Emotional and Verbal Abuse

Emotional and Verbal Abuse is manipulation through verbal and physical humiliation, constant accusations and threats, mind games, extreme jealousy, and cruel behaviour.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse can involve rape or other forced sexual acts, or withholding or using sex as a weapon. Unwanted or non-consensual touching, as well as using guilt or other forms of manipulation to force sexual acts are all categorized as sexual abuse.

Financial Abuse

Financial Abuse occurs when you are being withheld from having money, a job, your own bank accounts, or a say in your own finances. It provides the abuser with additional control, and will often prevent someone from having the means to leave.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological Abuse occurs when someone, through a series of actions or words, wears away at your sense of mental wellbeing and health. It often involves making you doubt their own sanity, and can include gas-lighting, creating dependency, and isolating you from supports.

Spiritual or Cultural Abuse

Spiritual or Cultural Abuse occurs when your particular cultural identity is used to inflict suffering, or as a means of control. Not letting you observe your faith, using racial slurs, threatening to ‘out’ you to friends or family, or isolating you when you don’t speak the language of majority.

Medical Neglect

Medical Neglect occurs when medical treatment, health care, or medications are withheld from you. Deliberately keeping you ill, from recovery, or from controlling reproductive agency over your own body is a form of abuse that will often prevent someone from having the ability to leave or to recover from injury or illness.

Digital or Cyber Bullying

Digital or Cyber Bullying occurs when someone uses technology, social media, and other online tools to harass, stalk, manipulate, blackmail, or otherwise inflict retaliatory actions against you. This can include keeping track of you through your phone’s GPS, posting compromising pictures of you online, or bullying you through social media.

Abusive Use of the Legal System

Abusive Use of the Legal System occurs when someone deliberately uses the courts or legal proceedings to further harass or control you. This may include deliberately dragging out proceedings, refusing to engage in mediation, going against court orders, filing nuisance motions, and/or using contact orders to harass you.

An abusive relationship can include any or all of these types of behaviours, sustained over a period of time and often escalating.

If you or someone you care about is experiencing abuse and you want to talk to someone about your concerns, please call us at 780.460.2195 or email us at info@saifsociety.ca.

If you or someone you care about is in immediate danger, please call 911.

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At this time, we are not able to provide counselling services to Edmonton residents.

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