Helping Abused Women

How You Can Identify and Help Women at Risk of Abuse?

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Are you concerned about someone you think is being abused, but don’t know what to do?  Call Tearmann House at 902-752-0132.


Is someone you know being abused?

You may suspect abuse is happening to a neighbour, friend or family member, but do not know what to do or how to talk about it. You may worry about making the situation worse, or be concerned about what to do. By understanding the warning signs and risk factors of woman abuse, you can help.  


How you can tell is someone is being abused:

  • He puts her down.
  • He does all the talking and dominates the conversation. He checks up on her all the time, even at work.
  • He tries to suggest he is the victim and acts depressed. He tries to keep her away from you.
  • He acts as if he owns her. He lies to make himself look good or exaggerates his good qualities.
  • He acts like he is superior and of more value than others in his home.
  • She is apologetic and makes excuses for his behaviour or she becomes aggressive and angry.
  • She is nervous talking when he’s there.
  • She seems to be sick more often and misses work.
  • She tries to cover her bruises.
  • She makes excuses at the last minute about why she can’t meet you or she tries to avoid you on the street.
  • She seems sad, lonely, withdrawn and is afraid.
  • She uses drugs or alcohol to cope.
  • While most abuse occurs in intimate heterosexual relationships, it can occur in gay and lesbian relationships as well.

Signs of High Risk

The danger may be greater if:

  • He has access to her and her children.
  • He has access to weapons.
  • He has a history of abuse with her or others.
  • He has threatened to harm or kill her if she leaves him: He says, ” if I can’t have you, no one will”.
  • He threatens to harm her children, her pets or her property
  • He has threatened to kill himself. He has hit or choked her. 
  • He is going through major life changes (e.g. job, separation, depression).
  • He is convinced she is seeing someone else. He blames her for ruining his life.
  • He watches her actions, listens to her telephone conversations, sees her emails and follows her. He has trouble keeping a job.
  • He takes drugs or drinks every day.
  • He has no respect for the law.
  • She has just separated or is planning to leave.
  • She fears for her life and for her children’s safety or she cannot see her risk.
  • She is in a custody battle, or has children from a previous relationship.
  • She is involved in another relationship. She has unexplained injuries. She does not have access to a phone.
  • She has no friends or family.
  • She faces other obstacles (e.g. she does not speak English, is not yet a legal resident of Canada, lives in a remote area).

Ways to Support Her

Here are some of the ways you can help when you recognize the warning signs of abuse:

  • Talk to her about what you see and assure her that you are concerned. 
  • Tell her you believe her and that it is not her fault.
  • Encourage her not to confront her partner if she is planning to leave. 
  • Help protect her safety.
  • Offer to provide childcare while she seeks help.
  • Offer your home as a safe haven to her, her children and pets. .If she accepts your offer, do not let her partner in.
  • Encourage her to pack a small bag with important items and keep it stored at your home in case she needs it. Know that you or she can call the Tearmann Women’s Shelter crisis line, or in an emergency the police.

If She Denies the Abuse

  • Assure her she can talk to you any time.
  • Don’t become angry or frustrated with her decisions. 
  • It is important to understand that she may be afraid or not ready to take the next steps.
  • Try to understand why she might be having difficulty getting help. She may feel ashamed.
  • Offer to go with her if she needs additional information or support.
  • If she has children, let her know gently that you are concerned about her and her children’s safety and emotional well-being. She may be more willing to recognize her situation if she recognizes her children may also be in danger.

Points of Concern

Points to Consider

 You feel it’s none of your business.  It could be a matter of life or death.  Violence is everyone’s business.
 You don’t know what to say.  Saying you care and are concerned is a good start.
 You might make things worse.  Doing nothing could make things worse.
 It’s not serious enough to involve the police.  Police are trained to respond and utilize other resources.
 You are afraid his violence will turn to you and your family.  Speak to her alone. Let the police know if you receive threats.
 You are afraid she will become angry with you.  She may appear angry, but she will know you care.
 You feel that both partners are your friends.  One friend is being abused and lives in fear.
 You believe that if she wanted help, she would ask for it.  She may be too afraid and ashamed to ask for help.
 You think it is a private matter.  It isn’t when someone is being hurt.
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