Relationship Violence or Intimate Partner Violence

Remember: It is not always easy to leave a relationship, even a dangerous one

The most dangerous point in an abusive relationship is when the survivor decides to leave. Trust the survivor to make that decision at the right time.

Relationship violence is a pattern of behavior used to exert power and control over a partner in an intimate relationship

Abuse is not just physical, but comes in many forms: sexual, psychological, emotional, financial and technological. Violence often happens in cycles, where the accused builds up to an incident, the incident occurs, then reverts to a honeymoon phase where the accused apologizes, buys gifts or tries to placate the survivor.

Warning signs of relationship violence

  • Withdrawal or isolation from family or friends
  • Constant phone calls, text messages or social media communication
  • Name calling, put-downs or embarrassed by their partner
  • Criticism about appearance or behavior
  • Threats or intimidation to get compliance with commands
  • Destruction of property
  • Control of money, important documents, computer and/or cell phone

If you feel like you are in an unhealthy relationship, it’s not your fault. See resources that are available.

How to help

Be careful about intervention

Involving yourself can potentially heighten the danger for a person experiencing relationship violence. Delay your support until a safe time.  It’s okay and encouraged to check in with your friend and see how he or she is doing.  Let them know you’re available if they need you.  Ask them how they are doing and then listen and validate their concerns.  You don’t want to demonize their partner but ask them how they feel when they disclose unhealthy or abusive behavior within the relationship.  Let the person in the relationship know you miss spending time with them, and let them guide the interaction.

Offer resources

Look to the resource page, and do not make the survivor feel obligated to reach out until she or he is ready to do so.

Do not blame the survivor for the violence she or he experiences

Abusers use tactics like blame and minimization so that survivors feel they do things to bring violence upon themselves. Tell the survivor the violence is not her or his fault.

What if the person does not leave?

Continue to offer your support

Survivors are isolated from their friends and family, and once she or he is ready to leave, any support will be welcomed.

Constant support can feel like enabling the abuse, but by supporting the survivor and not the accused, you can help ensure the survivor’s safety.

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