Why doesn’t she leave?

Many people, including judges and lawyers, believe that when a woman leaves an abusive partner, he will stop abusing her. Sadly, this is rarely the case.

Women with abusive partners realize this. Knowing the abuser will continue the violence often prevents them from leaving. Staying with him means a woman knows how to manage the violence; if she leaves, it may get worse. And it does. Ontario’s Domestic Violence Death Committee finds that 67% of the deaths it investigates involve a couple with an actual or pending separation.

Common post-separation abuse tactics

Abusive ex-partners will…

  •  Block access to money after separation
  •  Drain joint bank accounts or assets
  •  Use stalking behaviours (property damage, excessive phone calls, phone threats and verbal abuse, phones and hangs up, etc.), particularly if she takes a stand against what he wants
  •  Monitor her whereabouts and/or follow her
  •  Use technology to monitor, harass or stalk her
  •  Use social media to talk about the case or slander her name
  •  Lock her out of the family home
  •  Increase threats and intimidation
  •  Escalate abusive behaviours when she has a new partner
  •  Threaten/cause harm to her new partner, friends, family
  •  Make false allegations to slander/undermine her new partner

Post-separation abuse involving the children

The abuser will involve the children in the violence:

  •  Destroy the children’s belongings and threaten or harm the family’s pets
  •  Use children to justify breaking no contact orders
  •  Disrupt children’s routines (e.g., sleep, eating, sports, etc.)
  •  Withhold information about children
  •  Contradict the mother’s rules for children
  •  Demand visitation schedules at her or the children’s expense
  •  Make false accusations of bad parenting
  •  Exploit “father’s rights” to gain sympathy/undermine her
  •  Withhold child/spousal support, medical insurance, financial contribution to children’s extra expenses (e.g., sports, daycare, school uniform/graduation costs)
  •  Neglect children during his time with them
  •  Use violence in front of children
  •  Use corporal punishment with children
  •  Ignore children’s schedules, needs, identities, fears
  •  Use new partner to take on parental duties
  •  Tell children his new partner is their new mother
  •  Enforce strict gender roles with the children
  •  Degrade the woman to children/family members
  •  Use children as spies/to monitor their mother
  •  Threaten to kidnap children
  •  Refuse to permit her to travel with the children
  •  Refuse to sign for children’s passports or provide them
  •  Threaten to call CAS and have the children removed
  • Harm the children