Family life

Domestic violence

We often avoid this delicate subject but 17,321 cases were reported in Quebec in 2008 only.

Of all the situations involving a violent behaviour, very few are met with such misunderstanding, denial and even contempt. We often hear that the abused person should have left beforehand and that she might even have brought it on herself. Yet, domestic violence pervades the lives of people like you and me, of all backgrounds, and makes life a living hell for those who are stuck in a difficult family situation.

Types de violence

There are 5 types of domestic violence: verbal, psychological, physical, sexual and economic. Besides the fact that 8 out of 10 victims are women, nearly half of the 17,321 victims who contacted police services in 2008 were injured during the offense.

There are five types of domestic violence:
  • Verbal: raising your voice, threatening, insulting, belittling, giving orders, prohibiting.
  • Psychological: humiliating, ridiculing, criticizing the victim’s cooking and education, denigrating the victim’s intelligence.
  • Physical: hitting, slapping, pushing, grabbing an arm.
  • Sexual: forced sex, unusual practices without consent.
  • Economic: Forcing another to depend on one’s money, prohibiting some purchases, blaming the person for purchases made for this person and the children.

Physical violence is easier to notice because the victim has no doubt that she is, indeed, a victim. Family and friends could notice bruises and everyone understands the emergency and that it must stop before it gets worse. However, other forms of violence are equally devastating and their insidious nature sows doubt in the mind of the victim who sometimes questions her own judgement. This is when the cycle of violence settles in.


This is not a myth; a person stuck in a cycle of violence finds it hard to get out because she knows that a moment of peace will come after each crisis. This phase called “honeymoon” comes quickly and its semblance of peace gives the tired person a break that will be enough to wait a bit before finding the energy and courage to go away. However, the fact that the victim stays with a violent person alters the perception of friends and family who desire less and less to help because she stays there as if it was acceptable. The person feels less supported, endures more events and the situation worsens.

Fortunately, nowadays, the police is allowed to file in a complaint with or without the victim’s consent when arriving on the scene. This is how a neighbour who calls when he hears screams or suspicious sounds can save a life, literally and figuratively. According to a SPVM policeman: “It is the only way we can avoid complaints withdrawal. Before that law passed, I don’t know how many times a woman withdrew her complaint and was found dead a few weeks later. We want to avoid this kind of drama.

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