What is domestic/relationship violence?
Domestic/Relationship violence is inclusive of the following terminology: domestic violence, relationship violence, partner violence, and dating violence. This is violence that occurs between two or more people within an established relationship; such as romantic partners, dating partners, roommates, siblings, parents, friends, teammates, and club mates. Often, an imbalance of power and control is involved. The following are types of domestic/relationship violence:
- Physical abuse: hitting, shoving, slapping, punching, kicking, etc.
- Verbal abuse: yelling, insulting, using threats, etc.
- Economic abuse: withholding or controlling funds, interfering with work or education, not sharing responsibility for joint-assets, etc.
- Emotional abuse: belittling, causing guilt, causing humiliation, etc.
- Others: minimizing negative behavior (“It was a small fight,” or “I only did it because I love you so much”), isolation from support groups, etc.
Common Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
There are tangible signs that a relationship is unhealthy. Maybe it is a feeling we get after a comment, or an initial dislike or distrust of a person; no matter what it is, it is important to understand these signs are forms of violence. Some of these signs are listed above, but the following are other common behaviors within an unhealthy relationship. Alone, one of these signs does not necessarily guarantee an unhealthy relationship (context, body language, and other factors can play a role), but each one is still a red flag to consider.
- Managing or checking their partner’s texts, calls, emails, and social media accounts.
- Sharing private information without consent—Examples: outing their partner’s sexual orientation or sexual interests, sharing private photos, revealing grades, or telling others about their partner’s undisclosed disability (including mental illnesses).
- Getting mad or sad if the partner spends time with other people or telling the partner who they can or cannot spend time with.
- A person spends drastically less time with their other social connections.
- The partner threatens to harm themselves if the relationship is ended.
- A quick progression of a romantic relationship—Examples: moving in together after one month, saying “I love you” after two weeks.
- A pre-existing power dynamic exists, or comes to exist—Examples: A boss and an employee, a teacher and a student, a landlord and a renter, etc.
- Saying things like: “I need you,” “I don’t know what I would do without you,” “I’d die without you,” or “You are lucky I put up with you.”
- Disagreements result in yelling, screaming, and personal attacks.
- Someone feels the need to “hide” certain aspects of their relationship from their friends, family, and support network.
- Claiming the partner “owes them” something without prior and continuous agreement—Examples: “We are going on a date, so you should be paying,” or “I paid for dinner, the least you could do is put out.”
- One partner is continuously the only one trying to advance the relationship and encouraging the other person to go outside their comfort zone; such as, encouraging the person to move-in together before they are ready, coercing the person to say “I love you,” or buying something expensive and/or long-term for both parties without the other person’s knowledge (a cat, dog, car, apartment, etc.).
Common Signs of a Healthy Relationship
It is also important to note what a healthy relationship may look like and normalize such behaviors. Here are some things to encourage amongst your friends and loved ones.
- Telling a partner, “I am lucky to have you in my life,” or “You make each day brighter,”
- Both parties openly discussing long-term decisions with a joint-impact—Examples: getting a job, moving, buying a pet, spending large amounts of money, etc.
- Mutually consenting to types of physical and sexual contact (go to Consent and Sexual Violence sections for more information).
- Creating a dialogue around expectations, hopes, and goals within the relationship.
- Each person makes time for their own activities and spends time with people outside of the relationship.
- Both parties are excited and comfortable to talk to their friends, family, and social network about their relationship.
- Each person feels like they have equal power within the relationship.
- Disagreements are handled with active listening and address the behavior or action that led to the negative feelings, rather than insulting the person’s overall character. All sides are allowed to voice their thoughts and feelings in a care-focused manner.
- Each person expresses equal excitement about the relationship.