Intimate partner violence, conjugal violence, domestic violence... what are we talking about ?
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Intimate partner violence (aka conjugal violence or domestic violence) refers to situations where a partner uses different kinds of violent behaviours to establish power and control over the other partner's life and choices. It can occur in any type of intimate relationship (married, common law, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.), regardless of sexual orientation or age. It can affect women or men, although women are still more often victimized by this particular form of interpersonal violence.
Intimate partner violence is characterized by a series of repetitive acts, which generally occur in an upward curve. (...) Intimate partner violence includes psychological, verbal, physical and sexual abuse, as well as acts of economic domination. It is not the result of a loss of control but, on the contrary, is a means chosen to dominate the other person and assert power over him or her. It can be experienced in a marital, extra-marital or intimate relationship at any age.
Violent behaviours aim to gain power and to coerce the other victim into something. They can be non-physical (swearing, screaming, insulting, putting down, guilt tripping, belittling, humiliating, prohibiting, obligating, ridiculing, blaming, threatening the person, isolating from family or friends, destroying objects, etc.) or they can be physical (hitting, pushing, pinching, restraining, spitting, hitting with an object, sexually assaulting, etc.). In addition, violence may be directed against children, loved ones and pets (lying or manipulating children or loved ones, harming a pet out of vengeance). Violence can also be economic (criticizing financial management, incurring debts in the victim's name, stealing money, manipulating financial information, limiting access to financial resources, preventing the victim from working or studying, etc.) or spiritual (ridiculing the victim's spiritual beliefs, forcing or preventing the victim from practising her religion, using religion as a pretext to justify violence, attacking the victim's deepest values and aspirations, etc.). The use of the judicial system against the victim is also often present (filing a false criminal complaint or reporting the victim to youth protection services, lying to lawyers and judges, maintaining post-separation control over the victim through multiple legal actions in Superior Court, etc.).
Some forms of intimate partner violence are criminal (all forms of physical violence, sexual assaults, death threats or threats of physical harm, confinement, harassment, attempted murder, murder), but many of the daily forms of violence committed within a couple are not criminal despite their destructive impact.
Domination, power and control
In the context of intimate partner violence, these violent behaviours all have the same goal : establishing and maintaining power and control over the other person. The abuser wants to make their needs and desires the focus of the relationship and of the family. In practice, the abuser choses to constrain their partner in order to impose their will. Examples of this include imposing opinions, forcing the partner to do or not do something, preventing them from going out, controlling their money, or insisting on having the last word in an argument. Essentially, the abuser wants to take control and to eliminate the partner's right to self-determination.
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.