How can I tell if my husband or boyfriend is abusive?

This information is not intended to serve as or replace legal advice. Please contact a feminist rape crisis centre, transition house or women's centre to get further information and referrals for legal advice for your specific situation.

Many women are the victims of violence from their husbands or boyfriends. We know that “54% of women living with men will be struck at some time during the relationship by their partners” (CIDA). We also know that “60% of rapes, battering, and sexual assaults, take place in the home, the place women are supposed to be most safe” (Vancouver Rape Relief). This means that there are many men who use violence and it is impossible for anyone to determine which man might be violent and which man might not be violent. Each man makes this decision for himself with each encounter he has with women in his life and it is not your fault if your boyfriend or husband uses violence against you.

Violence that men use when they are in a relationship with a woman can be physical, verbal, or sexual. The following are common examples of how men use sexist violence:

  • He doesn’t want you to see friends or family or gets mad at you when you do
  • He doesn’t want you to try new activities such as, joining a women’s group, taking a new class, or getting a job.
  • He tells you how much money you can spend, or what you can spend money on.
  • He tells you what to wear, what to eat, when you can talk or how to organize your day.
  • He gets jealous and mad if you go anywhere, for example to the store, or out with friends.
  • He gets jealous and mad if you mention speaking to other men, friends, co-workers, your friend’s husband.
  • He calls you names; fat, stupid, ugly, bitch, or tells you you’re not good enough.
  • He threatens you, yells at you, swears at you.
  • He uses physical violence such as; punching, slapping, pushing, pinching, kicking, spitting, not letting you leave the house, a room, or the car.
  • He punches walls, or destroys other property.
  • He uses sexual abuse or rape- forcing you to have sex when you don’t feel like it, withholding money or favors until he gets sex.
  • He forced or pressured you into sexual acts that you’re uncomfortable with.

If your husband or boyfriend is doing any of these behaviors with you, you can call us or another feminist rape crisis center to talk to about what to do. We are available for you to talk to on our crisis line 24 hours a day. We are completely confidential and we have a transition house for women and their children who are escaping violence.