Resource Information for Fleeing Domestic Violence

Housing and Supportive Services

YWCA Harbour House (women, children)

Phone: 403-320-1881

Toll free: 1-866-296-0447

Lethbridge Shelter & Resource Centre

Phone: 403-327-1031

Wood's Homes

Phone: 403-317-1777

Safe Haven Women's Shelter

Phone: 403-223-0483

Pincher Creek
Women's Shelter & Crisis Line

Phone: 403-627-4868

Toll free: 1-888-354-4868

Native Women's Transition Home (Niitoyis)

Phone: 403-329-6506

Lethbridge Elder Abuse Network

Phone: 403-394-0306

Legal and Justice Resources

Legal Assistance

Phone: 403-327-3906

Lethbridge Court House

Phone: 403-381-5223

Crown Prosecutors Office

Phone: 403-381-5211

Legal Aid

Phone: 403-381-5194

Lethbridge Legal Guidance

Phone: 403-380-6338

John Howard Society

Phone: 403-327-8202

Community Corrections

Phone: 403-381-5202

Signs of abuse

Domestic Violence can be defined as a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power over an intimate partner. Domestic Violence can include physical, sexual, economic or emotional abuse as well as intimidation, manipulation and any other behaviour used to frighten, injure, humiliate, blame or wound someone.

Domestic violence can look different depending on the context and environment it is taking place in. Please reach out if you believe you are experiencing domestic violence. See our Resources tab for Resource information.

Signs you may be experiencing Domestic Violence

Do you:

  • Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:

  • Humiliate or yell at you?
  • Criticize you and put you down?
  • Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • Blame you for their own abusive behavior?
  • See you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
  • Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • Threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • Force you to have sex?
  • Destroy your belongings?
  • Act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • Control where you go or what you do?
  • Keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • Limit your access to money, the Internet, phone, or car?
  • Constantly check up on you?

These are some signs that someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence.

Withdraws from others:

Reduces communication with family, friends, colleagues; has little or no social life; stops attending events or participating in activities formerly enjoyed

Personality and mood changes:

The person seems more guarded and less outgoing; there are more mood swings or the person seems more depressed, anxious, fearful or unsettled.

Impaired decision-making:

An abused person may appear increasingly indecisive and unable to make or commit to a decision. Because of eroding self-esteem, the person may be flustered easily, and needs to ask or consult with their partner about almost everything.

Limited access to money:

The person’s financial situation may appear to change – they rarely have money for personal spending and often indicate they can’t afford things or are required to ask their partner for money. Even groceries or other “necessary” purchases require explaining or justification to a partner.

Drops hints about problems:

A person may refer to conflict or arguments at home and wonder how to make the relationship work, feeling responsible for it. They may increasingly refer to the partner’s anger, temper or stress.

May use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate or cope:

The increased use of alcohol or medications such as pain-killers, anti-depressants or sleeping pills may be a person’s response to the effects of abuse.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or that the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save their life.

Talk to the person in private and let them know that you’re concerned. Point out the signs you’ve noticed that worry you. Tell the person that you’re there for them, whenever they feel ready to talk. Reassure them that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let them know that you’ll help in any way you can.

drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help getting out of the situation, yet their partner has often isolated them from their family and friends. If you are having trouble deciding whether or not to speak up Please reach out if you believe you are experiencing domestic violence.

See our Resources tab for Resource information.

Below are a list of behaviours and traits which are common in perpetrators of abuse. These can be considered Warning Signs that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship.

Not all abusive people show the same signs or display the tendencies to the same extent.

Coercive Control

Domestic abuse isn’t always physical. Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive control creates a further sense of fear and isolation that permeates all aspects of a victim’s life, reducing their ability to seek help.


At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will say that jealousy is a sign of love. The person may question you about whom you have spoken to or seen during the day, may accuse you of flirting, or be jealous of time spent with family, friends, children, or hobbies which do not include him or her. Over time, there may be frequent phone calls during the day or unexpected visits, all under the guise of care and concern.

Controlling Behaviour

Controlling behaviour is often excused as a concern - for your safety, your emotional or mental health, your need to improve the use of your time or to make more sensible decisions. An abuser may become angry or upset if you are 'late' coming back from work, shopping, visiting friends, etc., even if they were told you would be later than usual. Your abuser may question you closely about where you were, who you were with and what you talked about. As this behaviour becomes more and more controlling, you may feel more and more trapped - with potentially not being allowed to make personal decisions or having to ask permission about your clothing, going to church or how you spend your time or money. Concern and care for loved ones is normal - trying to control their every move is not.


The abuser may try to limit your social interactions. They may try to prevent you from spending time with your friends or family and demand that you only go places 'together'. They may accuse you of not being committed to the relationship, or view people who are your personal friends as 'causing trouble' or 'trying to put a wedge' between you. They may want to live in the country without a phone, not let you use the car, stop you from working or gaining further education or qualifications.


Most abusers have very low self-esteem and are therefore easily insulted or upset. They may claim their feelings are 'hurt' when they are really angry, or take unrelated comments as personal attacks. They may perceive normal set-backs (having to work additional hours, being asked to help out, receiving a parking fine, etc.) as grave personal injustices. They may view your preference for something which differs from their own as a criticism of their taste and therefore themselves

Cruelty to Animals

The abuser may punish animals brutally, be insensitive to their pain or suffering, or neglect to care for the animals to the point of cruelty (e.g. not feeding them all day. There is a strong correlation between cruelty to animals and domestic violence which is still being researched

'Playful' use of Force in Sex

Consent should be considered an important part of intimate partner relationships. Abusers may pressure you to agree to forceful or violent acts during sex, or want to act out fantasies where you are helpless. They may show little concern about whether you want to have intercourse and uses sulking or anger to manipulate you into compliance. Starting sex while you are sleeping, demanding sex when you are ill or tired, or refusing any form of intimacy unless you are willing to go 'all the way' can all be signs that they could be sexually abusive or sexually violent.

Verbal Abuse

In addition to saying things that are meant to be cruel and hurtful, either in public or in private, this can include degrading remarks or running down any accomplishments. Often the abuser will tell you that you are 'stupid' and could not manage without him/her. He/she may keep you up all night to 'sort this out once and for all' or even wake you at night to continue to verbally abuse you. The abuser may even say kind things to your face, but speak badly about you to friends and family.

History of Domestic or Sexual Violence

Very rarely is abuse or violence a one time event: an abusive person will abuse any partner they are with and a sexually abusive person will be abusive toward all their intimate partners. Past violence is one of the strongest indicators that abuse will occur. See the Clare’s Law tab for more information on how you can find out if your intimate partner has a history of violence in relationships.

Threatening Violence

This may include anything from threats of physical violence to threats to report a parent to Child Protective Services to threats to commit suicide. The intention is to make the victim too fearful to leave.

Breaking or Striking Objects

The abusive person may break your treasured object, beat his/her fists on the table or chair or throw something at or past you. Breaking your things is often used as a punishment. Breaking your possessions also has the effect of de-personalizing you, denying you your individuality or literally trying to break links to your past. Beating items of furniture or throwing objects will often be justified by saying you wound them up so much they lost control, typically shifting the blame for this behaviour on to you, in order to threaten or intimidate.

Any Force during an Argument

An abuser may physically restrain you from leaving the room, lash out at you with his/her hand or another object, pin you against a wall or shout 'right in your face'. Any form of force used during an argument can be a sign that further physical violence is a strong possibility.

Facts and Myths

Myth: Family violence is not common.


There were approximately 400,000 victims of police-reported violent crime in Canada in 2019. Of these, one-quarter (26%, or more than 100,000 people) were victimized by a family member—that is, a spouse, parent, child, sibling or extended family member perpetrated the violence. These rates are considered conservative as there are high rates of domestic violence incidents that go unreported to police. (Statistics Canada, 2021)

Myth: Family violence is usually an isolated incident, or an argument that 'got out of hand.'


Studies have shown that family violence might occur as many as 35 times before the victim first tells anyone. Abuse is rarely a one-time occurrence and tends to worsen over time when there are no direct interventions

Myth:Family violence is a family matter and can be solved by the family.


Assault is a crime. Police are mandated to lay charges when there are reasonable and probable grounds. Due to the component of isolation while experiencing domestic violence; it can be uncommon for it to end without intervention from outside the family. Domestic violence affects all who are exposed: perpetrators, victims, and the children who witness the violence- it creates a breakdown of support and the loss of the family as a place of safety, nurturing, and well-being.

Myth: My child did not see the abuse first hand and therefore is not effected.


It is considered to be emotional abuse for a child to witness domestic violence. In this case, the word ”Witness” can include witnessing the event in real time or witnessing the aftermath of the abuse. The aftermath including bruises, cuts or scrapes on the victim or broken furniture. Children are harmed even if they are asleep when the violence happens. Being in an environment of anger and abuse has an impact on children in many ways: including but not limited to brain development affecting their ability to learn, as well as physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development and increases children’s level of anxiety and fear.

Myth: People experiencing domestic violence could leave their abusive partners if they really wanted to.


There are many reasons as to why people cannot or do not leave domestic violence situations. For example, victims of domestic violence are often isolated and controlled leading to a decrease in external supports. There is also a risk of the abuse escalating as the abuser loses control when their partner leaves. Criminal harassment (stalking), physical injury and homicide, is highest in the weeks and months immediately following separation. There is great loss of self-esteem within domestic violence victims, and without that, the victim may not have the internal resources to take the dramatic action necessary.