Personal Stories

An estimated 10,000 cases of domestic violence occur each year in the Capital region.
(Statistics Canada, 2007)

All the women in these stories are victims of abuse. Each story will highlight a specific aspect of an abusive relationship. These stories demonstrate that abuse crosses all socio-economic and cultural lines. The abuse that will be described includes:

  • Isolation
  • Economic abuse
  • Intimidation
  • Use of children to control
  • Emotional abuse
  • Threats

Isolation – Lola’s Story

Lola has been married to Dan for five years. He is an attractive, successful business man. They have two children. When they were first together Dan was very jealous and possessive of Lola. She was flattered and thought this meant he really loved her. Gradually he became controlling in all aspects of Lola’s life, and she soon felt everything she did was wrong. Dan would not accompany her to family visits and treated her badly when she returned from visiting them. As a result Lola saw family less and less. When they were with a group of friends, Dan would ridicule her, telling the group she didn’t know anything and he had to control her like a little child. Lola was humiliated and withdrew socially. Dan was very disapproving of any girlfriends Lola had. When he was confronted by one of her friends, he was extremely rude and later let Lola know she wasn’t to see that person anymore. Dan wanted to know where Lola was every minute of the day. When he phoned and she was not there, he would fly into a rage when he next saw her. Lola and her children lived in fear of Dan. She had no one to talk to, no one to tell her this was wrong. Her self esteem was shattered. She now believed what Dan told her about herself was true. Lola was virtually a prisoner in her own home.

Economic Abuse – Kathy’s Story

When Kathy met Sean, she was a young woman full of life, who enjoyed meeting new people. She worked as a receptionist for a car dealership. She continued to work after marrying Sean. When she became pregnant with their first child, Sean physically assaulted her. Kathy was stunned; she couldn’t believe this had happened to her. He was apologetic and promised it would never happen again. Once the baby was born Sean insisted she stay home and not go back to work. He gave her an allowance to run the household and he made her account for every penny she spent. Sean did keep his promise not to beat her again; but instead he abused her in other ways. Kathy wanted to leave but she felt she had no way of doing this. Sean kept such a close watch on any money he gave her that it was virtually impossible for her to put aside even a few dollars. When she would speak of leaving, Sean would convince her that she would never make it on her own. He vowed he wouldn’t give her a penny if she left him.

Emotional Abuse – Rosa’s Story

Rosa is an immigrant woman. She can speak little English. She is in Canada under her husband’s sponsorship. The adjustment to Canadian life is very difficult and Rosa’s husband takes all his frustrations out on her. He hits her, threatens her and calls her insulting names. Rosa doesn’t know what to do. People in her community don’t want to hear about her problems. They think it is a family affair. Rosa is reluctant to contact the police. Where she is from the police often just make things worse. She fears she will be deported if she leaves her marriage. Rosa’s husband also tells her that she will lose custody of their children if she leaves him.

Anne’s Story

Anne came from a small town where she was raised in a strict Christian family. When she met Andy she was impressed with his ability to take charge of a situation. He was a self-assured young medical doctor in the same hospital in which she worked as a nurse. Before they were married Anne noticed that Andy insisted on making all the decisions but he could not always convince her they were the “right” decisions. They have been married now for two years, and Andy treats Anne as though she was his personal servant, someone who must obey his every command. He is very careful not to show this behaviour to any of their colleagues or friends. They appear to have the perfect relationship. Early on in the marriage, Anne tried to stand up for herself; Andy abused her physically, letting her know that is what she could expect. Anne’s self-esteem is very low. She knows it is wrong for Andy to treat her this way, but she feels helpless to do anything, mostly because everyone believes he is a “wonderful” guy.

Adapted From: In Our Best Interest. A Process for Personal and Social Change. Ellen Pence. (1987).

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