Abuse Is Wrong In Any Culture: for First Nations and Métis people

The "cycle of abuse"

Many people have found that abuse and violence get worse over time if there is no help. The diagram below shows how this can work. Tension builds and the person who is being abusive starts attacking in a "mild" form—maybe with accusations, insults or put-downs. The victim may try to keep things calm, or may respond and argue. Either way, this continues to build until there is an explosion of violence. Afterward, the person who was violent is often regretful—promising that it won't happen again, promising to get help, or even threatening to kill himself if you leave him. The tension, however, usually starts to build up again, and the cycle repeats. As time goes on, the cycles may happen more often, and the violence may get worse.

Cycle of abuse

Figure - Text equivalent

The tension builds for a while until the person acts violently. After the "explosion" or violence, there is a period of calm or quiet. The person who was violent may say they are sorry and promise it will not happen again. He may promise to get help ... or even threaten to kill himself. However, in time, the tension builds and he usually becomes violent again. The violence usually gets worse over time and happens more often.

A First Nations woman who lived through domestic violence, said "Domestic violence—it's every little bit that someone gets away with, they get away with putting you down in front of your friends, they get away with tapping you a little bit, punching you on the arm, hitting you, or pulling your hair, holding you against the wall. You know, it's all wrong. It's like a disease, I think, that progressively gets worse."

Are you feeling "torn"?

You want the hurting to stop, but it's difficult to believe that talking about it or asking for help will make things any better.

"Once I pulled a gun out and cornered her and the kids. ... 'I know you love me,' she said, 'but one day you could love me to death.'"

(from Aboriginal Women and Family Violence, Canada, National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada, 2008).

Many people who are abused just want the violence and abuse to stop, but they're afraid of what will happen if they try to change things-to them, their family or even the person they love who is hurting them. They may be afraid that their family and friends will not help them, and sometimes family and friends don't help at first. But remember, this is not only happening to you. Your children and those closest to you, and even to the person who is violent, are all locked into this cycle until someone decides to ask for help. You can choose to start to make your life and that of your family better.

Relationships, like people, can be healthy or unhealthy. Sometimes you need the "right medicine" that can include counselling.

It is not healthy for anyone to live in a violent relationship. You may love someone, and they may love you, but if they are still violent and abusive toward you, and you're afraid, be very careful. In healthy relationships, there is no fear.

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