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The following is information to help you understand abuse and violence in the home.

What is Abuse?

Abuse is an intentional and deliberate behaviour in which one person makes a choice to harm another to dominate and control the other person. Victims of abuse never choose or ask to be abused.  Victims of abuse tend to know in their gut when behaviour is abusive.

Family Violence, Domestic Violence, and Intimate Partner Violence

Family Violence/Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence is when one is abused by someone within one’s family or close inner circle. This can be your husband/wife, partner, parent, parent-in-law, sister/brother, grandparent, aunts/uncles, older children, boyfriends/girlfriends. Intimate Partner violence and Domestic violence often refer to when one person in an intimate relationship chooses to abuse their intimate partner.

Examples of Abusive Behaviours

Abuse comes in many forms. Here are a few examples of behaviours that are abusive, this is not an exhaustive list. Your own experience may be similar or different than what you read here. The only person responsible for any abusive behaviour is the person perpetrating the abuse.

Emotional or psychological abuse

  • insults, name calling, belittling, constant criticisms;
  • attacking a person’s belief system or culture;
  • abusing or neglecting children and attempting to stop the mother from intervening
  • mocking the victim, humiliating her;


  • trying to stop the victim from having access to family and or friends;
  • trying to stop her from having social contacts, outside interests, and or work;
  • jealousy; taking away her access to a vehicle or transportation.


  • destruction of property;
  • attempting to control what a person says or does not say;
  • attempting to make the victim account for every minute of her day;
  • threatening to hurt anyone who helps the victim;
  • threatening to hurt or kill children, pets, friends, or family;
  • threatening to commit suicide;
  • attempting to control with fear;
  • telling her she is a bad mom;
  • threatening to be abusive if she does not do what he wants;
  • threatening to disclose the victim’s sexual orientation if she does not do what the perpetrator wants.

Economic Abuse

  • keeping his money from the family; trying to stop the victim from earning money;
  • attempting to force her to hand over money;
  • attempting to force her to account for how she spends money;
  • forcing the family to live in poverty when money is available.

Physical Abuse

  • grabbing; pushing; shoving; slapping; punching; kicking;
  • attempting to strangle; breaking ones; knifing;
  • shooting or using other weapons;
  • locking her out of her home; abandoning her in an unsafe place;

Sexual Abuse

  • forced unwanted sex;
  • demanding that the victim wears more (or less) provocative clothing;
  • forcing sex with objects, friends, animals;
  • insisting that the victim act out pornographic fantasies;
  • denying her sexuality;
  • making degrading sexual comments; leering;
  • making threats if she does not comply with sex;
  • pressuring to have sex.

Spiritual Abuse

  • ridiculing a victim’s religious / spiritual beliefs;
  • attempting to stop her from practicing or participating in spiritual practices;
  • using spirituality / religion as a way to attempt to control and manipulate the victim;
  • destroying spiritual scriptures or objects;
  • attempting to force or pressure her to accept spiritual beliefs or engage in spiritual practices.

Taken from: Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships. Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. 2007.

Please call if you want to talk about if you are being abused or if you think you are abusing someone close to you or know someone who is being abused.

Call our 24-Hour Crisis & Information Line:  1-403-881-2000


How Women Resist

Whenever a person is abused and treated badly they respond in obvious or subtle ways to oppose the abuse, oppression or disrespect and preserve their dignity.  This is called resistance.

“Individuals are active and spirited beings who respond to one another and to positive and negative events, including violence.”

(Richardson, 2013)

“Individuals respond to and resist violence, overtly and covertly, directly and indirectly – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Violence cannot be understood unless the resistance of the victim is taken into account at all points.”

(Richardson, 2013, emphasis added)

Resistance might include not doing what the perpetrator wants them to do, standing up against, and trying to stop or prevent violence, disrespect, or oppression. Imagining a better life may also be a way that victims resist abuse.

Many people believe victims passively accept violence, and lack self-esteem, assertiveness, or boundaries. Unfortunately, this leads people to have an incorrect, stereotyped, negative view of victims.

Abuse can be very dangerous, so usually victims resist it in ways that are not obvious. Others probably will not even notice the resistance so they assume that victims are “passive” and “they do not do enough to stand up for themselves.” In fact, victims actively resist violence, and in real life, the so-called “passive” victim does not exist.

It is empowering for victims to think about what they did to oppose mistreatment. Victims have responded by saying, “I knew I was not weak,” and “I feel more capable now to deal with difficult situations I may encounter.” Some women have found that examining their resistance to violence has helped them to resolve their feelings of being “damaged” and/or somehow responsible for the abuse.

Want to learn more about resisting abuse?

Take a look at the publication created by Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter, Honouring Resistance: How Women Resist Abuse in Intimate Relationships.

Taken from: Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter Website (2017) “How Women Resist”

Richardson, C. (2013). Indigenous women, RCMP and service providers work together for justice: A response-based safety collaboration in the Yukon. Research to Practice Network.