Domestic violence is a tricky topic because while we all know it exists in our communities, it is not something that is often talked about. There is still often the mentality that what happens in the privacy of our own homes, stays there. For most couples caught in this pattern the embarrassment and shame of the situation also encourages silence. My first job in the human service field was at a shelter for women and children who had experienced domestic violence. I remember being somewhat surprised that this really was an issue that affected people of all walks of life. We had clients from all economic backgrounds, with various levels of education, from different cultural backgrounds. While the shelter was for women only, our intake line was not limited to only female callers. Domestic violence is not limited to heterosexual relationships, but can happen in same sex partnerships as well.
Domestic violence is not solely about physical violence. It can also take the form of emotional, verbal, financial, or sexual abuse as well. This can further add to the complexities of domestic violence because there is often an attitude that if you are not being physically hurt, then the relationship isn’t that bad. It can be so hard to leave an abusive relationship because it often falls into a cycle, a cycle that is hard not to get sucked back into.
The cycle of violence starts with a tension building phase. You are walking on eggs shells and it might seem like you can’t do anything right. Many people find this the most difficult phase because you know what is coming next. An act of violence follows. Again this is not limited to only physical violence. After the violence there is a honey moon stage. The abuser may try to convince their partner it won’t happen again or that he/she will get help. Because most of us like to believe in the good of people, many people will stay in an abusive relationship with the hope that their partner genuinely will change. I remember hearing a stat at the women’s shelter that it takes an average of 7 times of a person leaving and returning to an abusive relationship before they leave for good.
If you or someone you care about is caught in an unhealthy relationship, there are resources out there to help you. In the Saskatoon area you can contact Saskatoon Interval House at (306) 244-0185 or see their website at http://www.saskatoonintervalhouse.org. Family Service Saskatoon runs several programs focused on healthy relationships and has an intimate partner violence outreach team which works out in the community. They can be reached at (306) 244-0127 or http://www.familyservice.sk.ca. The most important thing you can do if you are in an unhealthy relationship is to reach out and tell someone because you are absolutely not alone.