What is conjugal violence?
Conjugal violence is characterized by a series of repetitive acts which generally occur with an ever increasing intensity. Specialists call this progression “escalating violence”. It follows a cycle in which the aggressor moves through phases marked by an increase in tension, aggression, disempowerment, recovery and reconciliation. These phases for the victim correspond to fear, anger, feelings of responsibility for the violence and finally hope that the situation will improve. All the phases may not necessarily occur and do not always follow this order.
Conjugal violence includes psychological, verbal, physical, technological, religious and sexual abuse as well as acts of financial domination. It does not result in a loss of control but constitutes, on the contrary, a chosen way to dominate the other person and assert control over them. It can happen within a marriage, an affair, at any time in life. (Politique d’intervention en matière de violence conjugale, gouvernement du Québec)
Am I the victim of post-separation violence?
Post-separation violence, most often insidious and underhanded, can take various forms. Victims often suffer insults, humiliation and constant control from their partner even after a separation.
Whatever type of violence used, the goal of the ex-partner is to control his or her partner. Do you recognize your situation in some of these violent behaviors?
- Increases attempts and ways to stay in touch with you;
- Changes, perhaps enhances strategies to control you;
- Threatens to hurt you, kill you, to take away your children, etc.;
- Tries to find you by questioning your friends;
- Posts humiliating information about you on social media platforms;
- Regularly hangs around near your home;
- Enters your home without your consent;
- Does not respect the agreement for custody of the children;
- Uses the children to send you messages;
- Threatens to make you lose custody of your children;
- Makes derogatory comments when interacting with the children;
- Makes you feel guilty in your role as a mother.
What impact does violence have on me?
Effects on mother-child relationship
The impact of post-separation domestic violence can affect a mother's availability to look after her children on a daily basis, such as feeding them, dressing them, washing them, helping with homework, listening to them, etc.
Domestic violence can also have negative repercussions on the mental, physical and financial health of the victim.
- So depressed that I need to take medication, drink, etc.
- So depressed that I want to leave him the children
- Stressed, afraid, anxious
I suffer from...
- different fears
- physical injuries
- stomach problems
I had to...
- leave my place of work
- stop working outside the home because: I’m on sick leave, I’m exhausted or depressed, I’m afraid for myself or my children, my children are very young and I’m alone to take care of them, etc.
Conjugal violence takes different forms
Difficult to detect for others and sometimes for the victim, psychological violence can manifest as belittling, emotional blackmail, isolation, control of the relationship, etc.
- My ex says that if I make a new life elsewhere, he won’t survive.
- My ex won’t let our children have contact with my family because they don’t like him.
- My ex wants me to inform him every time I go out with our children.
Often downplayed, it is used to control and intimidate. Verbal violence can come in the form of sarcasm, degrading and humiliating comments, threats, etc.
- My ex says hurtful things, insults and makes unkind comments about my physical appearance.
- My ex calls me a “slut” because he imagines I sleep with other men.
This is the most widely known form of conjugal violence. Physical violence can take the form of injuries disguised as an accident, punches, shoving, physical restraint, etc.
- My ex enters my home without my consent and shoves me around.
- My ex pulls me by my clothing to stop me and intimidates me.
This is the most taboo form of violence. Sexual violence can take the form of sexual putdowns, conjugal rape, sexual and reproductive coercion, etc.
- My ex forces me to sleep with him.
- My ex insists on sexual relations when I don’t feel like it but I know that afterwards he will help me pay certain bills.
- My ex threatens to tell everyone what he does to me in bed.
- My ex blames his violent behaviour on his lack of sex since our separation.
This form of violence is common but not well known. Financial violence can take the form of hindering autonomy, creating financial dependence, etc.
- My ex stopped working so he wouldn’t have to pay alimony.
- I pay all the expenses for our child.
- I am stuck with having to pay credit card debts for expenses incurred by my ex.
- When we were together, we agreed that I would stay home with our child and he would pay for everything, but he controlled everything. Now that we aren’t together, I have no income and I’m afraid to ask for support which is my right.
Religious violence can take the form of imposing beliefs on the other, obligation to practice or prohibiting practice, etc.
- My ex forces me to attend our usual place of worship when he knows that I am no longer a believer.
- My ex made negative comments about me to our religious leader (priest, imam, rabbi, minister, etc.) because I ended our relationship. Since then I haven’t dared attend this place of worship which used to be a comfort to me.
- My ex decided, in spite of the fact that I disagreed, that our children would attend a school of his religious denomination.
Violence using technology
Violence using technology centers on using new technologies (social media, cell phones) to control or manipulate.
- My ex sneaks around outside the house and manipulates the smart devices which he still has access to on his smart phone (turns the lights off and on, puts music on in the middle of the night to frighten me).
- I lost access to my social network accounts because my ex controlled my passwords.
- When I go out with friends, I’m afraid that photos of me will be posted and cause a crisis with my ex who follows everything I say and do on social media.
- My ex encourages his followers on social media to intimidate me into dropping the legal charges that I have initiated against him.
- My ex uses GPS chips on my child’s devices during custody exchanges to track our comings and goings during my custody week.