Woman Abuse

Many women try to stop the abuse and protect their children, but once the pattern of abuse or violence has been set, it is very difficult to stop it without outside help. The good news is that there is lots of help available in Waterloo Region.

Abuse during pregnancy is common. Abuse may start or worsen in pregnancy. Seek support.

Health effects of woman abuse

The Health Effects of Woman Abuse are extensive, may lead to chronic conditions, and even death.

On average, 40 women are killed in Ontario each year by current or former intimate partners, accounting for 75% of all female homicides.

One in four suicides by women can be traced directly to the effects of current or past abuse.

In these extreme situations, children frequently witness the murder of their mother and may, themselves, be threatened or murdered in the same incident.

Children are often exposed to woman abuse. 60-80% of children in families where woman abuse occurs witness the abuse, either by seeing or overhearing it. Visit Children Exposed to Domestic Violence.

Physical Health Effects May Include

  • Broken bones, bruises, burns, cuts, stab wounds, firearm wounds, bites, woman with arm in castsprains, concussions, skull fractures, scarring
  • Perforated ear-drums, detached retina, injuries to the voice box, chipped or lost teeth, hair loss
  • Ongoing stomach pain, irritable bowel syndrome
  • Ongoing neck or back pain
  • Frequent headaches
  • Hyperventilation

Sexual Health Effects May Include

  • Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
  • Ongoing pelvic, genital or uterine pain
  • Frequent vaginal or urinary infection
  • Bruising or tearing of vagina or anus
  • Unplanned pregnancy
  • Infertility or early hysterectomy
  • Sexually addictive behaviours

Psychological Effects May Include

  • Low self-esteem, self-degradation, self-abuse, difficulty with relationships
  • Acute anxiety, frequent crying, unusual or pronounced fear responses, uncontrolled or rapid anger responses, ongoing stress, phobias
  • Flashbacks, insomnia, sleep disturbances, nightmares
  • Lack of appropriate boundaries
  • Memory loss, loss of concentration and productivity

Psychiatric Effects May Include

  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Dissociation
  • Post traumatic stress syndrome.
  • Eating disorders
  • Adjustment disorders with despressed mood
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

For more information, please check the Family Violence Affects Everyone brochure.

What does violence look likewoman hiding her face in her hands, a male fist hovering over her shoulder

Violence takes many forms and it can happen to anyone, but statistically women and children are more at risk.

Violence is the use of power to control and dominate others.

Forms of Abuse Wheel

The equality wheel shows what a healthy relationship looks like. See the Healthy Relationships page for more information.

Equality Wheel

Does Your Partner?


Make or carry out threats to hurt you


Threaten to take your children away


Intimidate you by destroying your property


Physically hurt you or the children


Hurt your pets


Make you afraid


Put you down, call you names, play mind games


Humiliate or make you feel guilty


Control who you see, what you do and where you go


Say it's your fault the abuse happened


Stop you from getting or keeping a job


Control all the money

Always remember these three key messages:

  1. It is not your fault
  2. You are not alone
  3. There is  help

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, Minnesota - 1

Help is available

Many women try to stop the abuse and protect their children, but once the pattern of abuse or violence has been set, it is very difficult to stop it without outside help.

There are free services in Waterloo Region - like emergency shelters and counselling and support programs for women, children and men.

There are also services that can help you get housing, financial assistance and legal aid. If you are experiencing violence, you are not alone.

There are people and services available to help you.


The Emergency Departments at St. Mary's Hospital, Grand River Hospital, and Cambridge Memorial Hospital are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A nurse and social worker from the Waterloo Region Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Treatment Centre are available to help at the Emergency Departments of St. Mary's Hospital and Cambridge Memorial Hospital.

In an emergency call 911 for the Police.

1 - Adapted with permission: Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, Minnesota