Relationship Violence

What is Relationship Violence?

Relationship violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic control, that individuals use against their intimate partners.

Relationship violence often follows a pattern of three phases characterized by increasing tension, explosion, and calm. How long each phases lasts is unpredictable.

Phase 1:
Increasing tension - Anger, blaming and arguing.

Phase 2:
Explosion - Battering (hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, use of objects or weapons), verbal threats, sexual assault.

Phase 3:
Calm - Abusers may deny violence, say they were drunk, sorry, and make promises that it will never happen again. Periods of calm tend to diminish over time.

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Are you, or is someone you know, in an unhealthy relationship?

  • Is your partner resentful or jealous of the time you spend with your friends?
  • Are you afraid of being hurt or of the response of your partner when he/she becomes angry?
  • Has your partner ever physically harmed you or threatened to do so?
  • Are you afraid to end this relationship?
  • Have you done things that you didn’t want to do to keep your partner from getting angry?
  • Does your partner’s behavior become violent when drinking or using drugs?
  • Does your partner disrespect your feelings or beliefs, ridicule or humiliate you?

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What are the warning signs?

Usually there are signs that violence may erupt in a relationship. Because the signs are subtle and, because the victim cares about the batterer and believes it was a one-time incident, the signs are often overlooked or even dismissed.

Some early warning signs include your partner’s controlling:

  • your time
  • who you talk to
  • when you see family or friends
  • whether you work or get an education

Your partner may also criticize:

  • how you dress
  • your appearance
  • how you behave
  • how you parent

The first incidents of violence often include grabbing, slapping, or pushing. In time the incidents can escalate to strangling, punching or even using weapons.

It is important to trust your instincts at the start of a relationship. If you have concerns talk to friends, family, or a counselor about them. GenEq's victim advocate may also be helpful.

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What to do if you are experiencing relationship violence.

  • Know where to go for help and keep telephone numbers with you.
  • Tell someone you trust what is happening to you.
  • Find a friend you can stay with in an emergency. Leave some clothes with them.
  • Plan and practice how to leave your home safely and quickly.
  • Pack a bag with a spare set of keys, a pre-paid phone card, emergency phone numbers, children’s birth certificates, diapers, a set of clothes, important papers, prescriptions, and some cash. Hide it in a place where you can take it on your way out.
  • Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as ripped clothes and photos of bruises and injuries.
  • Open a bank account in your own name.
  • Use resources  to get the medical care, counseling and other assistance you need.

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What to do if someone you know is experiencing relationship violence.

  • Be supportive by listening and taking what the person says seriously.
  • If you want to hug or touch the person to show your support, ask him or her first. Remember, the person may have been violated and did not have control over what was done to his/her body. By asking if the person wants touch, you help him/her take back control.
  • Don't ask "why" questions; they can make the person feel judged.
  • Tell the person that it's not his/her fault. Most survivors will blame themselves for what happened. It is important to counter that with strong messages that the relationship violence is the fault and responsibility of the perpetrator and not the survivor.
  • Don't judge his/her actions leading up to, during, or after the incident. Regardless of what the survivor was wearing, drinking, etc., the perpetrator is responsible.
  • Allow the person to make his/her own decision about whether or not to report the relationship violence, who to tell, etc. Support those decisions.
  • Allow the survivor to share what he/she wants when he/she wants. Don't pressure the person to share information before he/she is ready.
  • Offer resources.
  • Encourage the person to get support.
  • Tell the person that everything he/she decides to share with you is confidential (see the exceptions below).
  • Get support for yourself. You deserve it.

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If someone has been sexually or physically assaulted.

If someone has been sexually or physically assaulted...

  • Ask  "Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?"
  • If the person needs medical attention, ask:  "Do you want me to call Urgent Care or Highland Hospital?"
    • If the person says yes, then you can call:
    • If the person says no, then remind the person that if he/she wants to report the assault, or at least keep that option open, then he/she should preserve all evidence.
      A medical examination does not mean that the person has to file a report.
      At the very least, he/she should be checked for STDs, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, and other concerns.

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