Unmasking intimate partner violence

Understanding IPV

Unmasking intimate partner violence

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Intimate partner violence (IPV) happens when a variety of violent behaviours are used to install and maintain power and control over a partner’s life. Manifestations of violence can be very subtle or very overt. Regardless of its forms, intimate partner violence is often very difficult to identify, because it is camouflaged under a wide variety of masks that blend into the background of the relationship.


Power and control

Imposing their will, making unilateral decisions ; Imposing their presence, friends or activities ; Imposing certain tasks or responsibilities ; Punishing the victim when they do not comply.


Emotional violence

Intentionally creating emotional pain and suffering; Scaring the victim, making them cry, startling them ; Threatening, ridiculing, blaming or insulting the victim ; Making the victim feel guilty or humiliated ; Giving hope that things will change without any real intention of following through ; Keeping the victim in a constant state of alert or high stress.


Psychological violence

Creating a state of internal imbalance within the victim ; Constantly questioning or doubting them ; Making fun of them or criticizing their decisions ; Imposing a bad mood or a climate of tension ; Holding the victim responsible for the couple's problems ; Dismissing the victim's opinions, manipulating their perception of reality (gaslighting) ; Reframing violent events in a way that prevents the victim from identifying the violence for what it is; Questioning the victim's mental health.


Spiritual violence

Attacking the victim's deepest values or the meaning they give to their life ; Imposing beliefs or preventing the victim from practising her religion ; Challenging or undermining the victim's efforts to reach her dreams or ambitions.


Indirect physical violence

Intimidating through physical violence expressed in the victim's environment, but not reaching their physical integrity ; Blocking access to the exit ; Throwing or breaking objects ; Punching walls, destroying property ; Driving dangerously.


Violence by proxy

Threatening or hurting someone else in order to influence the victim; Hurting a pet in order to punish or to coerce the victim. Manipulating the perception of loved ones or social/judicial workers against the victim.


Direct physical violence

Acting in an abrupt or coercive manner, in a way that affects the victim's physical integrity; Spitting, biting, hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, shoving, restraining, grabbing arms, pulling hair, choking…



Using technology to maintain or increase power and control ; Reading her emails, messenger or text messages ; Filming her without her knowledge ; Monitoring the victim's whereabouts using geolocation features ; Listening in on private conversations ; Harassing the victim by phone, text messages or social media.


Sexual violence

Imposing sexual will or using sexuality to control or degrade the victim; Making humiliating comments about the victim's physical appearance ; Verbally pressuring or manipulating the victim to have sex ; Accusing the victim of infidelity ; Sharing intimate photos or videos without the victim's consent ; Forcing the victim to accept certain sexual practices, forcing them to watch pornography ; Forcing the victim into prostitution ; Initiating sexual relations while the victim is unable to give consent e.g., when she is sleeping ; Physically forcing the victim to have sexual relations or contacts.


Judicial violence

Diverting or using legal proceedings in order to gain power over the victim; Bringing false charges against them with police or youth protection agencies ; Lying to social and legal advocates; Accusing the victim of parental alienation ; Dragging out legal proceedings unnecessarily; Disregarding court agreements, orders or rulings.



Controlling the social environment to restrict contact with people who might offer support to the victim ; Interrogating the victim whenever she goes out ; Fostering conflit with loved ones ; Expressing jealousy towards friends or coworkers ; Imposing a move far away from friends and family ; Prohibiting or restricting the victim's access to social media.


Violence by proxy... the particular case of children

Using the children as a means to hurt the victim ; Threatening the victim to harm the children ; Abusing the children to punish the victim ; Encouraging the children to ignore the victim’s authority and disrespect her ; Using access rights or custody proceedings as a way to keep control after the separation.


Financial violence

Restricting access to financial resources in order to limit the victim's power to act ; Controlling spending and financial management ; Stealing money ; Stealing the victim's identity ; Limiting access to financial information ; Controlling professional choices ; Using money as leverage to keep the victim in the relationship.

As time goes on, IPV causes devastating harm to the victim’s psychological, emotional and physical health. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to see the link between a victim's symptoms and the violence she has endured. Psychological violence undermines the victim's self-esteem, confidence, power to act and sense of safety. Emotional violence forces her to experience fear, pain, anger, anguish and despair. Spiritual violence destroys her beliefs, her dreams, and the meaning she gives to her life. Physical violence harms her health, depletes her resources, injures her body and can be life-threatening. Sexual violence ravages the most intimate parts of herself. Cyberviolence monitors, listen to and follows her everywhere. Judicial violence ruins her financially and prevents her from exercising her rights. Financial violence ruins her credit and undermines her ability to provide for herself and her children. Isolation destroys her credibility, steals her family and isolates her from her network. Violence via children forces her to submit in order to protect them.

SOS violence conjugale


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Bien que la violence conjugale touche majoritairement des femmes, elle peut aussi toucher les hommes et les personnes issues de la diversité sexuelle et de genre. Les services de SOS violence conjugale sont offerts à toutes les personnes touchées par la problématique.

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