Woman Abuse


Woman abuse refers to a variety of intentional acts – physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, financial and spiritual – committed against women within the context of intimate relationships. It is also recognized that children exposed to woman abuse are at risk for child abuse or neglect.

Types of woman abuse include but are not limited to the following.[1]

  • Physical abuse involves violent acts – such as hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, pushing, spitting, biting, burning, withholding food or medical care, torture, assault with a weapon, assault causing injury/bodily harm and murder.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse refers to an act that provokes fear, diminishes self-worth or intentionally inflicts psychological trauma. It can include degradation, humiliation, extreme possessiveness, social isolation, control over daily activities and deliberate harm to property or pets. It can also involve threats of homicide, suicide, deporting family members, kidnapping children and harming family, friends or pets.
  • Sexual abuse includes forced sexual activity, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual touching, sexual exploitation or trafficking and knowingly exposing women to sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Verbal abuse refers to the use of provocative comments that are known or ought to be known to be unwelcome, threatening, degrading or offensive.
  • Economic or financial abuse refers to the misuse of personal belongings or funds by another. It includes demanding an account of all expenditures, withholding money needed for food or clothing, denying independent access to or taking personal funds and denying the right to seek or maintain employment.
  • Spiritual abuse includes degrading or preventing the practice of spiritual beliefs or enforcing adherence to an unwanted belief system.


Domestic Violence: Legal Definition


Domestic violence includes any crime involving the use of physical or sexual force, actual or threatened, in an intimate relationship. Intimate relationships include those between opposite sex and same sex partners. They vary in duration and legal formality and include current and former dating, common-law or married couples.


[1] Adapted from the Region of Peel Woman Abuse Protocol Best Practice Guidelines, 2005.