Identifying Abuse

How do I recognize when a man is acting in an inappropriate way?

Violence against women involves a continuum of actions, words, behaviors and criminal acts. It often starts with down putting and derogatory jokes, mean spirited words and/or sexualized comments or bragging. Following a woman and constant telephoning is actually a crime called criminal harassment. Forced or coerced sex is a crime too. If someone has had too much to drink, they cannot legally give consent to have sex therefore sex with someone in this state is against the law.

Here are some other signs of abuse:

  • He puts her down
  • He dominates her
  • He checks up on her all the time
  • He acts as if he owns her
  • He lies to make himself look good
  • He acts like he is superior to her

The situation is more dangerous if:

  • He threatens to harm her, her kids or people she cares about in any way
  • He is depressed
  • He has threatening to kill himself
  • He has abused others, including in the past and pets
  • He has ever hit or chocked her
  • Blames her for his abusive actions
  • Watches her, follows her, controls her, reads her mail or email
  • Misuses drugs and/or alcohol
  • He has no respect for the law
  • She says she fears for her life
  • Has just left this person or is planning to leave
  • Has injured she cannot explain
  • She is isolated either geographically or socially, lives far out of town, is not in touch with family, has no family living here or close by, has no friends, cannot speak English
  • She covers for him and minimizes what looks to you like abuse
  • Everyone, including men need to speak up when they see or hear it and tell him that his behavior is not acceptable.

Domestic Violence Risk Factors
Looking at relationship history, a woman’s own perception of her risk levels, the history of the abuser and his access to weapons and firearms, are all significant factors that contribute to identifying a woman’s risk level.

To download a 2-page information sheet about risk factors, see this Summary of Domestic Violence Risk Factors from the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General..

The information provided is for your general information only. We strongly suggest women work with a community worker who will be able to assist her in identifying risks and making a safety plan that meets her specific needs.

Our Use of Gendered Terms

Please note: We use the term she/her when referring to the person being abused and he/him when referring to the abuser.  This is because by far the vast majority of sexual and intimate partner violence is perpetrated by men against women. We do wish to acknowledge that men can and have been victimized by women and that violence and abuse in the context of same sex relationships is also a reality.