Understanding Abuse

An abuser uses behaviours to gain power and control over the victim and to try and take away their sense of self-worth.

Sometimes it is difficult to determine when the relationship goes from healthy to unhealthy. Sometimes unhealthy behaviours escalate over a period of time. Sometimes there are ‘red flags’ on the first date that are commonly missed or the abuse may start months or years into the relationship.

If you notice you aren’t spending as much time with your friends or family, you are lying or secretive about your relationship, you are sad, scared or feeling helpless, you may be in an unhealthy relationship.

Remember this is not your fault and help is available.

group therapy session

Types of Abuse

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial. The following are only a few examples of abusive behaviour:

  • The use of physical force that may result in pain or injury. This includes pushing, shoving, kicking, slapping, biting, strangling, hitting, etc.
  • Being locked out or denied access to the home
  • Denied help when ill, injured or pregnant
  • By physical force not being allowed to leave
  • Weapons or objects being used against an individual
  • Abandoned in a dangerous situation
  • Threats to harm an individual, their family or pets
  • Manipulation through lies and contradictions
  • Being ridiculed for an individual’s beliefs, race, heritage, class, religion or sexual orientation
  • Being convinced they are to blame for the abuse
  • Stalking
  • Forced to have sex or watch sexual acts
  • Forced or pressured to perform sexual acts or have sexual acts performed on them
  • Forced to have sex after a physical assault, when they are ill, or as a condition of the relationship
  • Partner controls all of the finances
  • Prevented from getting or keeping a job or from going to school
  • Denied access to bank accounts, credit cards or vehicle
  • Limited access to health, prescription or dental insurance

This is any action or inaction by those in a trusting relationship that jeopardizes the health or well-being of an older adult.

View this document to learn about the six types of elder abuse.

  • A current or past spouse or partner
  • A person they are dating or have dated
  • The biological or adoptive parents of one or more children with that person, regardless of marital status
  • A person that has care and custody over them pursuant to an order of a court

Stalking/Criminal Harassment

Stalking is a behaviour that causes fear of harm through the repeated following, monitoring, harassing, or watching another person. Stalking is often romanticized in the media, but it is often a threatening and terrifying experience for victims, and it is a criminal offense. Someone who uses stalking behaviour can be a current or past romantic partner, acquaintance, or a stranger.

  • Sending unwanted text messages, letters, emails, voicemails.
  • Constantly calling and then hanging up.
  • Following, watching home or place of work, waiting in frequented places, showing up unannounced or uninvited.
  • Using social media, or other technologies to track a person.
  • Sending messages or inquires through friends or family

If you are being stalked or believe that you are being stalked:

It is important that you seek support to manage the stalking and its impact on your life. Consider the following recommendations:

Avoid all contact with your stalker

  • At the earliest stage, give one clear, firm message to the stalker that their attention is unwanted and you want no further contact from the person.
  • If you have children with the stalker, consider filing for custody or seek legal advice.

Contact the Police

  • Stalking is a crime. If you are being stalked, contact the police immediately, especially if the stalking persists for more than 2 weeks.

Document all incidents

  • Keep a log of every stalking incident with dates, times, and details of the events.

Increase your Personal Safety by Creating a Safety Plan

  • A safety plan allows you to think about things that could happen and what you could do in the event that it does.


Strangulation is one of the most dangerous forms of violence and is when something is put around your neck (such as hands or another object) and pressure is applied making it difficult or impossible to breathe. Some symptoms you could experience after being strangled:

  • Voice changes
  • Painful swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in hearing

If you have experienced recent strangulation, you can call 811 to talk with a registered nurse who will complete a strangulation assessment with you over the phone. You do not need to give your name to the nurse.

The Parkland RCMP has developed a couple of PDF documents that detail the signs and symptoms of strangulation. Once either of these documents has been printed, you can then use them to document and log the signs and symptoms of strangulation.

There is a document for adult strangulation and also one dealing with child strangulation.