What is Relationship Violence?

Types of Abuse

Emotional abuse: Includes actions by a partner that systematically destroy a person’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth.  Emotional abuse includes jealous behavior, ignoring feelings, belittling values, restricting social activities with others, and withholding love, approval, and affection.

Verbal abuse: Using words to injure another person. This includes name calling, insults, threats of physical and/or sexual violence, threats of self-harm and/or suicide, humiliation, intimidation, criticism of one’s body and exaggerated criticism for mistakes.

Sexual abuse: Includes any forcible sexual activity that occurs without consent. This can range from unwanted touching to forcible penetration.

Physical abuse: Includes any behavior that causes or threatens to cause bodily harm.  Some examples are hitting, slapping, grabbing, breaking things, or threatening to do any of the above.

For more detailed information on the dynamics of abuse, check out the WWC Power and Control Wheel.

Dynamics of Relationship Violence

In many abusive relationships, there are common patterns of abuse.  While this cycle is not present in all abusive relationships, aspects of it may appear in any order.

Cycle of Abuse

The cycle of abuse is a generalized pattern and often varies from relationship to relationship.

This cycle makes it much harder for people who are in abusive relationships to leave.  Abusive relationships may not always be bad and often have good periods.  This pattern creates stronger bonds because the relationship is unpredictable and often has highs and lows. 

Abuse rarely happens in issolated incidents.  If an incident happens once, it will most likely happen again.  While it may be a very long time, violence is often re-occuring and escalating.

Some Questions to Ask Yourself, If You Think You Might Be In An Abusive Relationship

For Further Information:

In spring of 2010, the RISE Project in collaboration with various community members and crews put together a zine called Nests and Wings: A Zine on Family and Partner Violence, Support and Healing.  The zine is a compilation on information, stories, and much more.  It is an excellent resource if you are seeking more information on relationship violence and can be downloaded here.


Important Resources

If you feel that you or someone you know is experiencing a form of relationship violence (or that you just want more information) please see the following resources to consider support and services available: