Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation.

Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern of control. Approximately 1 in 3 women in this country will experience relationship abuse in her lifetime.* Women and children are more at risk of violence in their homes and relationships, by men they know, than in the street. Abuse does occur in same-sex relationships. The elements of abusive relationships are similar for heterosexual and homosexual relationships, although same-gender survivors may face additional barriers to safety and different kinds of threats may be used against them. An individual’s size, strength, politics or personality does not determine whether she or he could be abused or an abuser.

Warning signs of abuse:

  • Feeling nervous around your partner
  • Controlling your behavior to avoid partner anger
  • Pressured for sex by your partner
  • Scared to confront your partner and disagree
  • Your partner criticizes you and humiliates you
  • Your partner repeatedly accuses you of seeing or flirting with other people
  • Partners actions prevents you from interacting with family and friends
  • Partner states that you are wrong, stupid, crazy or inadequate and deflates your self esteem
  • Your partner has threatened you physically and verbally and acted in wild behavior
  • Your partner has stated that they will hurt you
  • Your partner makes excuses for reasons of the abuse

Types of Abuse:

  • Economic Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Physical Abuse
  • Verbal Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Academic Abuse
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Use of Technology
  • Dynamics for Immigrant Women
  • Same-Sex Relationship Abuse
  • Dynamics for Women With Disabilities
  • Power and Control Wheels

Why people stay in an abusive relationship:

  • Economic necessity
  • Isolation: from friends, family, community support, resources
  • Fear: of retaliation; of being alone
  • Threats: the abusive partner may threaten to commit suicide or hurt their partner/children, other loved ones and/or pets
  • Lack of resources or information about available resources
  • Shelters are full
  • Love and concern for partner’s well-being
  • Hope/belief that partner will change
  • Culture/ religion/ family pressures to stay together
  • Shame and guilt
  • Depression
  • Belief that the abuse is their fault
  • Immigration status: fear of deportation without partner’s support, fear of separation from children, law enforcement etc.
  • Children: desire to provide them with a two-parent home, custody concerns etc.

Where to get Help:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233
  • Local Police Precinct