What is Domestic Violence?

“Domestic Violence” refers to abusive behaviour in an intimate, kinship, or dependent relationship and is also known as wife abuse, spouse abuse, family violence, and partner assault. Abusive behaviour is not limited to physical violence and is rarely an insolated, random event. It is a relentless terror that also strikes against the emotional, financial, sexual, and spiritual zones of life.

At the heart of domestic violence is the issue of power and control. Using one or a combination of tactics, the batterer asserts authority and creates debilitating fear as a means of controlling, intimidating, coercing, and dominating the survivor.

Types of Abuse


A ny unwanted physical force, touch, or contact.


  • Pushing, grabbing, strangling, pulling hair
  • Slapping, punching, kicking, choking, pinching
  • Burning, biting, scratching, stabbing, cutting
  • Restraining you physically, confinement, twisting limbs
  • Use of weapons or objects to harm or injure


Although this type of abuse is difficult to define, emotional abuse involves a broad spectrum of behaviours and tactics targeting the self-confidence, independence, and perception of a person without the use of any direct physical violence. It is a psychological terror that is the most pervasive and destructive form of abuse for it can occur independent of or accompany the other forms of abuse.


  • Communicating to a person that he or she is useless or inferior; devaluing his/her thoughts and feelings
  • Insulting, ridiculing, mocking, humiliating, name calling, imitating and infantilizing
  • Stalking; destruction of a person’s valued property, possessions, and pets; attacks on and/or insults against family, friends, loved ones
  • Physical confinement; restricting social contact with friends, family, and others
  • Failing to provide care in a sensitive and responsive manner; being detached and uninvolved


I nterfering with an individual’s financial independence through partial to complete control of the person’s finances.


  • Denies access to cash, bank accounts, employment income, inheritance
  • Not given a say in how money is spent
  • Credit cards are used without permission
  • Information to one’s own financial records, investments, assets, and debts are withheld or denied.
  • Controls where and when one is employed


A ny form of unwanted and non-consensual sexual activity, touch, contact or behaviour.


  • Rape
  • Coerced performance and participation in disliked sexual acts
  • Sexual name calling, treatment as a sex object
  • Ridiculing and insulting the body and/or body parts
  • Forced pregnancies or abortions
  • Inappropriate touching, violations of personal space
  • Forced to watch pornography
  • Harassment for sex or withholding/refusal of sex


V iolating an individual’s right to choose and exercise one’s own religious belief.


  • Degrading or attacking religious beliefs
  • Prohibited from practicing one’s faith
  • Barred from attending the religious setting of choice
  • Forced compliance to a faith or religious tradition
  • Manipulative use of scripture against him or her
  • Bringing up past sins
  • Saying that God does not care/love him or her

Ministry of Attorney General - Family Justice

KCWA Family & Social Services
27 Madison Ave. Toronto, ON M5R 2S2
Tel) 416.340.1234 Fax) 416.340.8114
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