What Is Relationship Violence?
Relationship violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship
that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate
Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological
actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This
includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate,
hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Relationship violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual
orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are
married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects
people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
- Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you
- Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive
- Tries to isolate you from family or friends
- Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
- Does not want you to work
- Controls finances or refuses to share money
- Punishes you by withholding affection
- Expects you to ask permission
- Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets
- Humiliates you in any way
You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner has ever:
- Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.)
- Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you
- Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place
- Scared you by driving recklessly
- Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you
- Forced you to leave your home
- Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving
- Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention
- Hurt your children
- Used physical force in sexual situations
You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:
- Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles
- Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships
- Wants you to dress in a sexual way
- Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
- Forces or manipulates you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
- Holds you down during sex
- Demands sex when you’re were sick, tired or after hurting you
- Hurts you with weapons or objects during sex
- Involves other people in sexual activities with you against your will
- Ignores your feelings regarding sex
How can I help a friend or family member who is being abused?
Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that you are concerned for their safety.
Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse. Tell him or her
you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help them recognize
that what is happening is not “normal” and that they deserve a healthy,
Acknowledge that he or she is in a very difficult and scary situation.
Let your friend or family member know that the abuse is not their
fault. Reassure him or her that they are not alone and that there is
help and support out there.
Be supportive. Listen to your friend or family
member. Remember that it may be difficult for him or her to talk about
the abuse. Let him or her know that you are available to help whenever
they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and
listen to them.
Be non-judgmental. Respect your friend or family
member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive
relationships. He or she may leave and return to the relationship many
times. Do not criticize his or her decisions or try to guilt them. He or
she will need your support even more during those times.
Encourage him or her to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
If he or she ends the relationship, continue to be supportive of them.
Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member
may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. He or she will need time
to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your
support at that time.
Help him or her to develop a safety plan.
Encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance.
Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or
support groups. Offer to go with him or her to talk to family and
friends. If he or she has to go to the police, court or a lawyer, offer
to go along for moral support.
Remember that you cannot “rescue” him or her.
Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt,
ultimately the person getting hurt has to be the one to decide that they
want to do something about it. It’s important for you to support him or
her and help them find a way to safety and peace.
Information Obtained from the National Domestic Violence Hotline
Please call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 to discuss your concerns and