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Relationship Violence

What is relationship abuse?

Relationship abuse refers to behaviors within an intimate relationship when one person establishes power and control over another person.  Relationship abuse can occur within current or former dating relationships and marriages.

  • 1 in 3 American women and 1 in 4 American men have been victims of some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime
  • Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.

 Cycle of Violence

Abusers do not begin relationships with violence.  It is often built up over time and can begin subtly that by the time physical violence begins, the victim feels utterly powerless.  Most relationship violence consists of a cycle of violence.  Each stage of the cycle varies in time from relationship to the next.  The cycle can happen hundreds of times within an abusive relationship.  It is important to know that not all relationship violence will fit into this cycle.  Often, as time goes on, the “making-up” and “calm” stages disappear altogether.

  • Tension Building
    • Abuser starts to get angry
    • Minor incidents of physical/emotional abuse take place
    • There is a breakdown of communication
    • Victim tries to control the situation to avoid violence
    • Victim feels like they are “walking on egg shells”
    • Longest Lasting Stage
  • Explosion
    • Physical/Emotional/Sexual Violence takes place
    • Abuser is unpredictable
    • Victim is helpless and feels trapped
  • Honeymoon Phase
    • Abuser apologizes for the abuse, promises it will never happen again
    • Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse
    • Abuser may bring gifts, be especially romantic, loving, and attentive
    • Victim will be confused and feels guilty
    • Victim considers reconciliation
    • Victim often recants/minimizes abuse

Relationship abuse can take place in the form of physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse.  These are just a few examples. 

 Physical abuse:

  • Preventing the other person from leaving
  • Pushing, hitting, shaking, strangling or biting the other person
  • Threatening to or using weapons
  • Throwing or breaking objects

 Emotional Abuse:

  • Isolating the other person from friends and family
  • Making all the decisions in the relationship
  • Demonstrating extreme jealousy
  • Controlling all aspects of the other person, including how they dress, spends their time, or where they go
  • Belittles or trivializes the other persons hope and dreams

 Verbal Abuse:

  • Name calling
  • Embarrassing the other person in public
  • Constantly criticizing their partner
  • Blaming the partner for everything that does not go as planned

 Sexual Abuse

  • Pressuring the other person to engage in sexual activity
  • Unwanted or unwelcome sexual touching
  • Forcing their partner to engage in sexual activity with others

 Economic/Financial Abuse

  • Ruining someone’s credit
  • Buying things that the victim needs and using that to manipulate the victim
  • Making someone feel guilty about their financial status
  • Using the victim’s credit cards or meal plan
  • Stealing money
  • Not paying bills

If you're wondering if you are in an abusive relationship, take this quiz.