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When Love Hurts: A women's guide to understanding abuse in relationships

Love is meant to be supportive

What happens when you are hurt by the one you love? Women have many questions about their relationship and are discouraged by the lack of support and information they receive from family and friends.

“This is an excellent resource not only for women to use on their own but also for counselors and advocates.”

by Dr. Mary Russell Professor of Social Work, University of British Columbia, Canada

We wrote When Love Hurts to answer some questions and help women make sense of their relationship. Some common questions women ask:

Am I experiencing abuse?
Why does my partner hurt me?
Why do I stay?
Will my children be abusive?
Is there something wrong with me?
How do I heal from the abuse?

Maggie’s Story:

I didn’t see myself as an abused woman. The only images I had came from television. I thought of abused women as weak, quiet and less educated – women who were battered and bruised. That wasn’t who I was at all. And my partner certainly didn’t fit my image of an abusive husband. I thought they were wild and out of control – men who drank too much, were brutal and hateful. My partner’s behaviour was confusing. I saw him being kind and pleasant to our friends and family. He was often loving to me, and I loved him. But he got angry so easily; and when he was angry, he was hurtful. Since his hurtful behaviour was always directed at me, I believed I was the cause of the abuse. Maggie.


Sometimes women will say they believe their partner behaves the way he does because he has mental health concerns. Men who are abusive are sometimes diagnosed as having a personality disorder or of being bipolar. Men who are abusive may blame their hurtful behaviour on being depressed. This is very confusing for women; if their […]
Sometimes friends and family give women, who have experienced abuse, ultimatums. For example, “If you move back in with him, I won’t talk to you anymore.” Often when friends and family do this, they think that they are doing some version of “tough love”. Perhaps they are not doing a good job of managing their […]
Stockholm Syndrome was coined 40 years ago at the end of a six-day bank siege in Stockholm, Sweden. Sometimes women who are experiencing abuse from their partner wonder if they are experiencing Stockholm Syndrome because they feel a certain alliance with their partner. They may also be worried about their partner and care about what […]
Sometimes women impacted by abuse wonder if their expectations are too high. In our experience this is not true. Rather, it seems that over time, abuse lowers a woman’s expectations. For example, she starts out expecting that her partner will respect her feelings but over time he does not and so she gradually lets go […]
We had been married 15 years. Things had been very hard for a long time. I knew there was something really wrong but I did not know what it was. I did what I think most women would do, I sought out couple’s counselling for us. I went to couple’s counselling hoping it would make […]
In 2016 Danielle Smith, with Newstalk 770 on the AM dial, interviewed us about our 3rd edition...
When Love Hurts