Why it happens
Intimate Partner Violence can take several different forms, and it can happen to anyone. It's not about how much a person loves you; It's all about power and control.
The Alberta Council of Women's Shelters defines Domestic Violence as “a pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another.” It can be very traumatic and confusing to be in an abusive relationship.
If you are experiencing violence in a relationship it is very important to realize that it is not your fault. A survivor's actions do not cause someone to abuse or control them; you cannot 'make' someone be violent or controlling towards you.
The abuse often follows a pattern called the cycle of abuse. This cycle may have a period of calmness, where everything seems to be alright in the relationship. Following this is a period where the tension builds, where people may feel as if they are walking on egg shells and are "waiting for something to happen." The incident or explosion period is next where physical abuse may happen. After this there is usually a period when the abuser makes excuses, apologies, and says that "it'll never happen again." This is sometimes called the honeymoon stage; the survivor wants to believe that the abuser is sorry, and that the abuse will not happen again.
What can you do?
Sometimes friends and family members may ask why a person doesn't "just leave" the relationship. But it may not be easy to leave; there may be some complicated reasons that make a person stay.
Find someone who you can trust will take you seriously, and tell them that you are in an abusive relationship. Telling someone is the first step to breaking the silence and secrecy around the abuse, and will allow you to gain some power and find a way to change things.
Remember that the abuse isn't something that you have caused; it isn't about you. It is about how the abuser chooses to behave and act. Find out more about abuse in intimate partner relationships. The more information you have, the better you will understand the situation that you are in, and you will have more choices and opportunities to change things.
You can talk to the police about what has been happening to you, and about your options, without the police laying charges against the person who has been abusing you.
Victim Service Advocates are trained to help you; we can provide information and help you to find resources in the community that you live in. We are non-judgmental, will listen to you, and will help you to find what you need to get through this situation.