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Abuse & Sexual Assault


Abuse & Relationship Violence

Violent and abusive behaviour can happen within families, during a relationship, or after a relationship ends. It can be physical or sexual violence, but also includes intimidation, mental or emotional abuse, financial exploitation, stalking, and harassment.

Physical abuse can be any kind of hitting, shaking, burning, pinching, biting, choking, throwing, beating, and other actions that cause physical injury, leave marks, or cause pain.

Emotional abuse happens when yelling and anger go too far or when parents constantly criticize, threaten, or dismiss kids or teens until their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth are damaged. Emotional abuse can hurt and cause damage just as physical abuse does.

Sexual abuse is any type of sexual contact between an adult and anyone younger than 18; between a significantly older child and a younger child; or if one person overpowers another, regardless of age. If a family member sexually abuses another family member, this is called incest.

Child abuse is the physical, emotional, and sexual mistreatment of a child. It includes abandonment, desertion, neglect, ill-treatment, or failure to meet the physical, emotional or medical needs of a child. It endangers a child’s survival and safety, and harms their self-esteem, growth, and/or development. It can involve a single act or a pattern of incidents. This short video is called The Chase.

Dating violence can involve sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse. Like most forms of abuse, it’s an attempt by the abuser to gain control over the victim. “Causing Pain: Real Stories of Dating Abuse and Violence” is an Emmy Award-winning video that describes through real stories how dating abuse and violence starts, how it progresses, and how to recognize the signs of abuse.

Harassment can take the form of repetitive and unwanted texting. This video from the Ad Council shows examples of “textual harassment.”

Learn more about abuse and other forms of violence at

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is a victim of any form of violence, help is available through the following victim services:

  • Youth against Violence Line: If you are in danger or being threatened, call the Youth Against Violence (YAV) Line at 1-800-680-4264 to talk one-on-one to a YAV Line support worker 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everything you say is kept confidential and is anonymous – there is no call display. The YAV Line is a multilingual service.
  • Victim Safety Unit: The Victim Safety Unit allows victims of crime and persons protected by a restraining order to register for ongoing notification about the status of an adult accused/offender. It also provides financial assistance to travel to justice proceedings. Phone 604-660-0316 or call toll free at 1-877-315-8822.
  • Kids Help Phone: The Kids Help Phone is not just for kids. It’s for teens too. Check out their Info Booth to find information about issues you may be concerned about, including dating violence, sexual abuse, and physical abuse in the family. To speak to a counsellor about anything at all, call 1-800-668-6868. You can also ask a question online.
  • Helpline for Children: The Helpline for Children is a toll-free help line staffed by social workers who can provide help and answer questions regarding reports of child abuse or neglect. Anyone can call the help line to report a person under 19 who needs protection. Phone 310-1234 (no area code required), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • BC Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse: The BC Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse is a non-profit society, established to provide therapeutic services for males who have been sexually abused at some time in their lives. Phone 604-682-6482.
  • Qmunity Resource Centre: Qmunity Resource Centre provides counselling, resources, programs and peer support to the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual communities. Phone 604-684-5307. Qmunity also operates Prideline, a peer support, information and referral helpline. To reach Prideline, call 604-684-6869 or toll free at 1-800-566-1170.
  • VictimLinkBC: VictimLink BC is a toll-free information and support line that provides information and referrals to all victims of crime, and crisis support to victims of family and sexual violence, including sexual assault, and violence in relationships. Phone 1-800-563-0808, 24 hours every day. VictimLink BC provides service in 110 languages, including 17 North American Aboriginal languages.
  • Crime Victim Assistance Program: The Crime Victim Assistance Program provides financial benefits to assist victims, immediate family members, and witnesses in dealing with the effects of violent crime. Phone: toll free 1-866-660-3888.

Take action

If you would like to take action to end violence against women and girls, there’s a toolkit available online that can help you take the initiative in your community. See Youth Against Violence: Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls. The toolkit can be used both by adult mentors and youth participants to create activities that raise awareness. You can also join the WeCanBC campaign to end violence against women.