Family Violence Initiative

Intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence is violence or abuse that can happen to you:

  • within a marriage, common-law or dating relationship
  • in an opposite-sex or same-sex relationship, or
  • at any time during a relationship, including while it is breaking down, or after it has ended.

Not all intimate partner violence is the same. In some cases, one person may want power and control and will use different ways (including physical violence) to get complete control over their partner. For example, they try to control things such as:

  • what you wear
  • whether you can go out and where you go
  • who you spend time with
  • when you can talk to your family and friends
  • what you spend money on
  • whether you can work or take classes, and
  • when and how the two of you are sexually intimate.

This type of abuse almost always gets worse over time. It often leads to serious physical violence and can cause you to have lasting health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).*

In other cases, both partners may abuse each other. Conflict happens in every relationship, but there are healthy ways to solve problems. Sometimes people live with severe stress and use violence instead of solving their problems peacefully. It can be hard to break the pattern of abuse, but it is possible.

Some people who have had a very bad experience in their country of origin or who have lived in war zones may also have PTSD. This may affect their relationships. Counselling or other services could help to deal with these problems.

No matter why the abuse is happening, if you feel that your life or your children's lives are at risk, get help as soon as possible.

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