Stigma Surrounding Mental Health and Trauma

Did you know that, according to Canada.ca, more than 26% of all reported violent crimes are attributed to family violence? Additionally, only 19% of those who had been abused by a spouse reported the abuse to the police or another form of authority. Unfortunately, these statistics could mean that it is highly likely that someone you know, potentially someone close to you, is a victim of domestic violence, and you might not be aware of it. It is important that awareness on this issue is increased, especially as the Canadian statistics on this crime are so shocking.

How can I tell if I or someone close to me is undergoing domestic violence?

Unfortunately, because of the nature of the issue, many victims of family violence feel shame, guilt, and may even be justifying their abuser’s behaviour. While most cases of domestic violence tend to involve physical and sexual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse are also common. The most common signs and symptoms of verbal and emotional domestic violence include:

  • Bullying and threatening
  • Alienation from friends and family
  • Physical and sexual abuse (e.g. attacks with weapons, rape, etc.)

Due to the nature of domestic violence, victims might not be willing to immediately disclose the abuse and may try to hide it. Keep a lookout for these common signs of domestic violence:

  • Constant anxiety over pleasing a partner
  • Never having money on hand
  • Making up excuses for visible bruises and other injuries
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season
  • Low self-esteem and constant generalized anxiety

These may not be the only signs of domestic violence; bear in mind that these signs are not consistent for all cases of family violence. While most cases of domestic violence tend to involve the abuse of women, it is important to note that men can also be victims of domestic violence (although the abuse tends to be more verbal in nature rather than physical or sexual). Additionally, it is important to note that men, LGBT, and First Nations victims are some of the least likely members of the community to report domestic violence.

Where Can I get Help

If you are experiencing domestic violence, or if someone has disclosed their abuse to you, it is crucial to seek help as soon as possible. If you suspect that there is immediate danger, or if an attack is happening right now, call 911. You can also call the Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 416-863-0511 (TTY 416-364-8762).

You should seek the help of police authorities as soon as possible. It is sometimes helpful to be accompanied by a close family member or friend to provide emotional support throughout the process.

There are numerous shelters located in Toronto and around the GTA that are dedicated to survivors of domestic violence. It is important to create a barrier between a survivor and their abuser, and these shelters can often provide mental health support, as well as legal resources. A list of shelters, as well as other community resources, such as crisis helplines and legal aid, that are available in Toronto can be found at this link: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/8c17-R1-Domestic-Intimate-Partner-Violence-Resources-FINAL.pdf

More information on domestic violence and helpful resources:

Legal Aid Ontario

Toronto Police Service

Victim Services Toronto

Femaide (for French-speaking women)

Family Service Toronto David Kelley Program for LGBTQ+ clients

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