Relationship violence is defined as physically, sexually, psychologically abusive and/or intimidating behaviors used by one individual to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Intimate partners may be dating, cohabiting, married, separated, or divorced. Relationship violence can occur in same- or opposite-sex relationships.
Examples of Relationship Violence
Name-calling, insulting, and humiliating are forms or verbal and/or emotional abuse.
"He always put me down in front of others. He would say, 'You're a stupid slut.'"
"My partner has a short temper and will curse at me until I cry, but then apologize the next day."
Isolation and domination are forms of psychological abuse.
"My boyfriend would always tell me that he was the only person I needed in my life."
"My partner makes all the decisions about what we do."
Stalking, possessiveness, and extreme jealousy are forms of psychological abuse.
"He would constantly call or text me to see what I was doing and where I had been."
"My girlfriend accused me of cheating every time I talked to another girl."
Threats, manipulation and intimidation are forms of psychological abuse.
"While we were arguing in the car, my partner began driving in a way that scared me."
"My boyfriend threatened to kill himself if I broke up with him."
Pressuring or forcing sexual activity, engaging in sexual activity while your partner is sleeping or unconscious, and the unwanted use of physical force in sexual activity are types of sexual abuse.
"We had sex whenever he wanted to, even if I didn't."
"My partner would coerce me to do things sexually I did not feel comfortable doing."
Throwing objects, kicking, punching, slapping, pushing, biting, hair-pulling, using weapons, forcing drug or alcohol use, withholding money, food or other necessities, and homicide are types of physical abuse.
"Whenever I did something he didn't like or even if I looked at him the wrong way, my boyfriend would hit me."
"I always felt like I was walking on egg shells, unsure what would 'set him off' and when he would hurt me."
Why Do People Stay In Abusive Relationships?
Outsiders often struggle with this question. They have a hard time understanding why someone would stay with an abusive partner. It is important to remember that even asking this question focuses attention on the victim's behavior, when the problem is the abuser's behavior. Some of the reasons that people stay in abusive relationships include:
- Fear of what an abuser may do if she/he tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Lowered self-esteem due to verbal and emotional abuse. Sometimes victims of abuse begin to believe that they do not deserve a better relationship, that the abuse is their fault, or that things will get better.
- Reluctance to let others know they've been living in an abusive situation: thinking that others will express disbelief or blame.
- If they are cohabiting, belief that she/he shouldn't have to leave because they haven't done anything wrong.
Just like relationship violence, dating violence is controlling, abusive, and/or aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. Dating violence can occur in same- or opposite-sex relationships. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination.
Controlling behavior may include:
- Not letting you hang out with your friends
- Calling or texting you frequently to find out where you are, whom you're with,
and what you're doing
Telling you what to wear
- Having to be with you all the time
Verbal and emotional abuse may include:
- Calling you names
- Belittling you (cutting you down)
- Threatening to hurt you, someone in your family, or himself/herself if you don't
do what he or she wants
Physical abuse may include:
- Hair pulling
Sexual abuse may include:
- Unwanted touching and kissing
- Coercing or forcing you to have sex
- Not allowing you use birth control
- Forcing you to do sexual activities you do not enjoy or feeling comfortable doing
Warning signs someone might become abusive
It's important to remember that abuse usually starts once a relationship continues, not on the first date. Here are some warning signs that a person may become abusive:
Unrealistic expectations: Pressuring commitment to the relationship from early on.
Extreme jealousy: Trying to pass jealousy off as love, when it's really possessiveness and lack of trust.
Unpredictable mood swings: Sometimes charming and loveable, but can switch dramatically into explosions of anger.
Isolation: Pressuring to restrict contact with friends and family or participation in activities.
Control:. Making all the decisions for the couple.
Previous abus:. A history of violence such as having abused previous partners.
Substance abuse: Abusing alcohol and/or other drugs and claiming intoxication as an excuse for behavior.
Is Your Partner Abusive?
Does your partner:
- make you feel scared of them?
- always check up on you constantly?
- make all the decisions?
- get extremely jealous?
- control what you do and where you go?
- criticize, embarrass or humiliate you in front of others?
- make you feel stupid or inadequate?
- stop you from seeing friends or family?
- prevent you from doing things you want to do?
- pressure you into sexual activity?
- become violent when drinking or using drugs?
- threaten to hurt you, loved ones, property or pets?
- hit, push, grab, slap or otherwise try to hurt you?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be engaging in an emotional, verbal, sexual, and/or physical abuse relationship. Please contact the VSU Counseling Center at 229-333-5940 or The Haven at 1-800-33HAVEN for additional help.
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