April 10, 2013
The Georgia Straight - Written by Gail Johnson
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“People with a history of violence are much more likely to engage in future violence,” she says. “What did Rihanna tell Oprah about her background and Chris’s background? They came from abusive homes, both of them, where their fathers were abusive to their moms.”

Coupal notes that women and their children who have help from friends, neighbours, family members, and coworkers are more likely to get out of an abusive relationship safely than those who don’t have such aid. Matters are more difficult when an abused woman has additional challenges, such as disability, addiction, poverty, pregnancy, mental illness, and literacy issues.

There are cases where the abuser interferes with immigration status (threatens to revoke sponsorship, for instance), the woman’s ability to work, and custody or control of any children, or threatens to withhold a woman’s passport or legal documents. (Coupal’s website,, includes information on resources for women in a violent relationship and for people concerned about someone in such a situation.)

When an abuser exhibits obsession, jealousy, control, and coercion, the potential for violence often escalates after the abused woman leaves the relationship. Separating from a violent partner, in fact, is the most common risk factor for domestic homicide.

“The most dangerous thing an abused woman can do is leave without a safety plan,” Coupal says in a phone interview. “If you leave, they are going to try to get you back and they will do whatever they can to achieve that end.”