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What Is Abuse?

What Is Abuse?

Abuse is an attempt to control the behaviour of another person. It is a misuse of power, which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust, and dependency to make the victim vulnerable.

Get Support

  • Reporting a Crime: If you are reporting abuse to police, please contact the Non-Emergency Line: 780-423-4567.
  • Contact CTSS: If you have experienced a crime or traumatic event and require support, please contact the Crime and Trauma-Informed Support Services Unit at 780-421-2217 or ctss@edmontonpolice.ca.

Forms of Abuse

Physical abuse includes pushing, shoving, slapping, kicking, punching, hitting, spitting, pinching, pulling hair, choking, throwing things, hitting victims with an object, and using or threatening to use a weapon.

Sexual abuse is forced unwanted sex in any form, demanding the partner wear more (or less) provocative clothing, insisting the partner act out fantasies, and denial of the partner’s sexuality.

Verbal Abuse is a form of abusive behaviour involving the use of language (criticizing, name-calling, put downs threatening, blaming). It differs from profanity because it can occur without the use of expletives. Verbal abuse is a pattern of behaviour that can seriously interfere with one’s positive emotional development and can significantly impact one’s self-esteem, emotional well-being, and physical state. Verbal abuse, although not visibly apparent, is nonetheless damaging.

Financial abuse occurs when you are not allowed to have money or any control over money. This could include running up large debts in your name or selling your possessions without permission. Your partner may keep you accountable for any money spent, approving, or disapproving of your spending. It could also mean you are not allowed to have a job, so you become dependent on your partner for money and survival.

Isolation occurs when you are isolated from your family, friends, and community as a way for your partner to stay in control. Your partner may be extremely jealous of any contacts you have, forbid you to have contact with anyone, or monitor your phone calls, mail, or daily activities. Sometimes your partner may use intimidation or threats to control you. You may have to be accountable for your time away or must make excuses for leaving the home. You may have to communicate secretly when your partner is absent.

Emotional/psychological abuse can cause anxiety and depression and lead you to withdraw from everyone or everything around you. Examples of this type of abuse include insulting your family or friends, ridiculing your beliefs, race, or religion, using constant put downs, threatening suicide if you leave, keeping you prisoner in your home, threatening to take the children if you leave, and threatening to have you deported.

For more information, please see our Elder Abuse, Child Protection, Domestic Violence, and Sexual Assault pages.