Bayridge Counselling Centres:

  • 9 Locations & 40 Therapists
  • Caring Client Coordinators to Help You Choose the Right Therapist
  • Confidentiality & Privacy Guaranteed

"I believe you. I believe your experience to be true. I believe all of the hurt, fear, shame and pain you have experienced.

I believe you even if you have no physical bruises, photos, or evidence. Even if the police disregard your story, or probe you with more and more questions; I believe you.

Even if your assailant was not held accountable. I know you are telling the truth and I am here to listen to you without judgment. You deserve the most pure and authentic kind of love--self-love.

You deserve loving, healthy relationships with every person who is in your life. You are strong and you inspire me you get up and you fight every day to exist. Even in the midst of these feelings, try and remind yourself how brave you are for taking that first step toward taking care of yourself and reaching out for support.

There were a lot of forces working against you to hold you back from taking that step--the fact that you did it is a testament to your courage and strength.

That courage is still inside you; no matter what response you received when you reached out."

Marie Dolson, B.A. (Hon's), RSSW

Most Frequently Asked Questions:

Domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of coercive behaviour used by one person to maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member.

It may include a single act of violence, or a number of acts forming a pattern of abuse through the use of assaultive and controlling behaviour. This includes any behaviour that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.

Domestic Abuse a serious national problem that knows no racial, religious, cultural or economic boundaries. Victims can be of any age, race, sexual orientation, gender, be dating, married or not married and represent a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and education levels. Although domestic abuse affects women, men, children and elders, women are most often the victims.

What are the patterns of abuse in relationships

The patterns of abuse may include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Psychological abuse (Mental abuse)
  • Sexual abuse
  • Economic or Financial
  • Spiritual / Religious
  • Cultural
  • Criminal harassment (stalking)
  • Cyber abuse
  • Threats to harm children, other family members, pets, and property

What is mental Abuse?

Mental refers to the mind or the intellect. Mental abuse results in impairing the mental life and impeding mental development. “Majority of research identifies things like “intelligence, memory, recognition, perception, attention, imagination, and moral development” as part of “the mental life.” 

Perhaps it is best to understand the meaning of Mental Abuse by first defining the term ‘Mental.’ The dictionary defines Mental as something pertaining to the mind or relating to the mind. As we are all well aware, the mind is the faculty by which we form our thoughts and/or opinions. Mental Abuse, therefore, refers to a disturbance of the mind, or in simpler terms, a damaged mind. This means that the general sanity and stability of a person’s mind has been disturbed or damaged. Such a state occurs due to continuous, excessive, abusive behaviour that may take several forms including verbal abuse (shouting, name-calling and blaming), neglect, isolation, humiliation, intimidation and/or domination. This type of conduct typically exposes a person to constant negativity and results in the creation of negative thoughts. If the abuse continues, such negative thoughts fester over time, increase and become a part of the person’s belief. Mental abuse interferes with cognitive development (i.e., how we learn, remember, solve problems, make associations between things, etc.).

What is the difference between Mental and Emotional Abuse?

The distinction between Mental and Emotional Abuse is indeed subtle. The best way to distinguish them is to think of Mental Abuse as abusive behaviour that damages a person’s mind, and Emotional Abuse as behaviour that damages a person’s emotions.

Mental Abuse affects a person’s thoughts and thought process.

  • Victims of Mental Abuse suffer from constant negative thoughts that diminish their value as a person and lead to self-degradation.
  • Mental Abuse is typically caused through verbal abuse such as insults or criticism, or even by humiliating a person in public.
  • If not treated, Mental Abuse may lead to detrimental effects such as insanity, depression or even suicide.
  • Emotional Abuse, in contrast, affects a person’s emotions or feelings.
  • Victims of Emotional Abuse typically suffer from feelings of insecurity, fear, rejection, isolation, insignificance, unworthiness, and they have a low level of self-esteem and confidence. They may also suffer from anxiety and depression.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional Abuse can be defined as any nonphysical behaviour that is designed to control intimidate, subjugate, demean, punish or isolate another person through the use of degradation, humiliation or fear.

Emotionally abusive behaviour ranges from verbal abuse (belittling, berating, constant criticism) to more subtle tactics like intimidation, manipulation, and refusal to be pleased. Emotional abuse is not only made of negative behaviours but negative attitudes. There are some types of physical behaviours that can be considered emotional abuse. These behaviours are referred to as symbolic abuse. This includes intimidating behaviour such as slamming doors, kicking a wall, throwing dishes, furniture or any objects and destroying or threatening to destroy objects that the victim values.

Milder forms emotional abuse is shaking a fist or finger, threatening gestures or faces or acting like he or she want to kill the victim. Research indicates the consequences of emotional abuse is more harmful than physical abuse and has an adverse affect on your mental health and well-being. Emotional abuse tends to happen every day. The effects are more harmful because they're so frequent. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone (

Here are examples of emotional abuse in intimate relationships:

  • Humiliation and degradation
  • Discounting and negating
  • Domination and control
  • Judging and constant criticizing
  • Accusing and blaming
  • Character assassination
  • Trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations
  • Emotional distancing and the “silent treatment”
  • Isolation
  • Withholding attention or affection
  • Projection and / or accusations
  • Threats of abandonment (either emotional or physical)

Is domestic abuse only physical?

Domestic abuse does not always present as physical abuse, which is a common misconception that people have.

People presume that if you have not been physically abused, then you are not experiencing domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of power and control in a relationship. "A person can try to take power or control over another person in a lot of different ways that aren't physical, and still could be controlling that individual“.

There is a whole list of abusive behaviours and attitudes that would fall under the umbrella of domestic abuse, and being able to spot them is key to prevention. For example, physical abuse happens when your partner:

  • Pushs, hits, slaps, strangles, kicks, bits; forces someone to have sex or engage in sexual acts against their will
  • Grabs or physically restrains in a harmful way
  • Poisons or otherwise administers substances causing illness
  • Inflicts any form of deliberate injury that causes harm
  • Forces you to do things you don't want to do, such as using drugs or alcohol

There is a whole list of abusive behaviours and attitudes that would fall under the umbrella of domestic abuse, and being able to spot them is key to prevention.

What are the early signs of emotional abuse?

If you've endured life with an abusive partner, it was not your fault. Maybe there were red flags and warning signs, and maybe there weren't. But many survivors agree that, upon looking back, they can see some of those early signs of abuse standing out in a way they didn't when the abuser first appeared in their life.

The following are some indicators of potentially abusive partners. These red flags are just that—warning signs that are worth looking out for and paying attention to. Here are some signs that may help you decide if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship.

Here some signs that may help you decide if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship.

  • Your self-opinion is declining, and you are always fighting to be good enough
  • You feel like you can’t do anything right
  • You feel like the problems in the relationship are all your fault
  • You leave arguments feeling like you’ve been messed with, but can’t figure it out or explain why
  • You have been hit, pushed, shoved, had things thrown at you or your things broken on purpose
  • You drink or use drugs to numb the pain in order to be able to handle it

Some Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationships

Adapted from Lundy Bancroft “Why Does He Do That?”

  • He/she speaks disrespectfully about their former partners
  • He/she is disrespectful toward you
  • He/she does favours for you that you don’t want or puts on such a show of generosity that it makes you feel uncomfortable
  • He/she is controlling
  • He/she is possessive
  • Nothing is ever his/her fault
  • He/she is self-centered
  • He/she abuses drugs or alcohol
  • He/she pressures you for sex or coerces you until you give in, or may even rape you
  • He/she gets serious too quickly about the relationship
  • He/she intimidates you when he/she is angry
  • He/she has double standards
  • He/she has negative attitudes toward the other gender
  • He/she treats you differently around other people
  • He/she appears to be attracted to vulnerability
  • He/she has an attitude that they are superior
  • If it is a man, believes in the inferiority of women
  • The following are used by males against females in Spiritual abuseHe appears religious and tells you how to correctly interpret spiritual teachings
  • Belittles your ideas, thoughts, feelings and interpretations
  • Misuses religious teachings regarding a “women’s place” to reinforce abusive behaviors
  • He believes men and women are not equals and uses religious teachings “prove it.”
  • Your self-opinion is declining and you are always fighting to be good enough
  • You feel like you can’t do anything right
  • You feel like the problems in the relationship are all your fault
  • You leave arguments feeling like you’ve been messed with, but can’t figure it out or explain why
  • You have been hit, pushed, shoved, had things thrown at you or your things broken on purpose
  • You drink or use drugs to numb the pain in order to be able to handle it

Other signs of abuse:

  • He/she retaliates against you for complaining about his/her behavior
  • He/she tells you that your objections to their mistreatment are your own problem
  • He/she gives apologies that sound insincere or angry, and they demand that you accept them
  • He/she blames you for the impact of their behavior
  • It’s never the right time, or the right way, to bring up things
  • He/she undermines your progress in life
  • He/she justifies their hurtful or frightening acts or says that you “made” them do it
  • He/she touches you in anger or puts you in fear in other ways
  • His/her controlling, disrespectful or degrading behavior is a pattern
  • You show signs of being abused
  • You are often compliant because you are afraid of their anger
  • You have the urge to rescue them when they are troubled
  • You find yourself apologizing to yourself or others for their behavior when you are treated badly
  • You make decisions about activities and friends based on your significant other’s wishes or how they will react
  • You are getting distant from family and friends
  • Your level of energy and motivation is declining

Characteristics of a controlling personality:

Women will have questions about her partner’s behavior, chief among them being “Why does he do that?”

The short answer is this: he thinks it’s okay, he rarely suffers a negative consequence, and it gets him what he wants, like attention and being catered to. For the long answer, read Lundy Bancroft’s book on how abusive men think. Please see a link to her website below for more info.

Lundy Bancroft’s Books & Website:

Here are some character traits common in men ordered into treatment for abuse. Not all men display all characteristics, but these are some of the fairly common ones. (Lundy Bancroft (2002). Why Does He Do that? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. Berkley Books)

  • Self-centeredness
  • Externalization of blame
  • Low capacity for empathy
  • Threat sensitivity
  • Resists authority
  • They Make You Question Your Sanity
  • They Spend A Lot Of Time Talking About Protecting You
  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Chronic criticism—even if it's 'small' things
  • Using guilt as a tool
  • “Jekyll & Hyde”
  • Mood swings
  • Short-tempered Nature
  • Unable to See Others' Happiness

What are common forms of therapy used for abuse?

Counseling, therapy, and support groups for domestic abuse can help you process what you’ve been through or what you are going and learn how to take the steps to heal toward healthy change.

The Types of therapy common in treating emotional abuse include:

  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Narrative Therapy
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Trauma Focused Therapy
  • Empowerment Based Therapy
  • Solution Focused Therapy

Learn how to take the steps to heal toward healthy change

About Bayridge Counselling Centres

We have been serving the Golden Horseshoe region for more than 25 years. Our team is composed of medical doctors, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, psychotherapists, addiction specialists, child and adolescent counsellors, coaches and mood disorder specialists. We also offer spiritual-based counselling with multi-faith, multicultural therapists.

People have mixed feelings about psychotherapy support and treatment

Unfortunately, we still live in a world where people who have been abused don't initially get the help and support they need. This can be very discouraging; however, it doesn't have to be the end of the story!

Help and Support are available to you! YOU are worthy of receiving it!

What to expect at your appointment:

  • As a new Bayridge client we know that you want to feel confident with your therapist. Our therapists’ specializing in domestic abuse have an understating of the impact of abuse, such as: trauma, flashbacks and nightmares.
  • Once we understand your needs and preferences we will match you with the most appropriate therapist, to your needs and set up your initial meeting. At this first meeting it is our goal that you are feel informed. This begins with our commitment to every Bayridge client.

Our Commitment to Every Bayridge Client

  • You are in an environment of trust.
  • You are in a safe environment.
  • You will be treated with respect.
  • Your therapist will explain to you the confidentiality agreement.
  • You will be listened to and understood in a non-judgmental manner.
  • You will be informed of the supporting services and resources that are available outside of counselling.
  • Our goal is to support you in exploring your thoughts, feelings, and life.

Through this process, you are now in control to achieve your goals and start a new chapter of your life. YOU are worth of receiving it!

Your Bayridge therapists’ goal is to empower you to understand the issues that are causing you pain and create a path to support you in regaining control over your life