Relationship violence occurs when one person
in a relationship attempts to physically and psychologically
dominate their partner by using threats, gestures, emotional and
physical abuse. Violence in relationship usually escalates from
threats and emotional abuse to physical violence and even
murder. Relationship violence occurs in heterosexual, gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships. Both women and
men can be victims of relationship violence, although women are
victimized more than men.
According to the Department of
Justice (2005), approximately 32% of college students are
victims of relationship violence.
violence doesn't "just happen" and usually follows a predictable
pattern of behavior, a cycle of violence:
The Tension Building
Phase: During this phase, there is a lot of tension in
the relationship. Stress begins to build between the abuser
and the person being abused. The abused partner is "walking
on eggshells" and is afraid that something is going to
happen, but doesn't know how or when. During the tension
building phase, the abused partner is very careful not to do
anything that he/she thinks might upset their partner. The
abuser will use a number of
control tactics to control their partner during
this phase. The abuser may use threats, intimidating
gestures or isolate their partner from friends and
occurs during this phase. The abuser may push, shove, slap
or hit their partner. This is the phase that bystanders tend
to focus on. Friends and family may respond by saying
"Well, what did you do to make him/her mad?" or "I know what
a pain in the butt you can be, you must have really ticked
him/her off" - not realizing that the violence is part of a
pattern of behavior. The abused partner is not to
blame for the abuser's behavior. It is important to remember
this. The abuser made a choice to hurt their partner. It is
not uncommon for the abuser to blame their behavior on
actions their partner did or did not take. This is just
Honeymoon Period: The honeymoon period follows the
violent behavior. The abuser apologizes and promises never
to hurt their partner again or they blame their partner for
their behavior and insist if their partner changes their
behavior will change. The abuser may say things like:
* "I'm sorry."
* "I got out of control, I couldn't help myself."
* "I'll get help."
* "I won't drink so much anymore."
* "I just had a bad day."
* "I love you and I didn't mean for this to happen."
* "I wasn't myself."
honeymoon period is what contributes to locking someone who
is being abused into the cycle because they want to
believe their partner will and can change. The cycle of
violence tends to increase in frequency and severity over
time; it doesn't get better by itself. In fact, it will
probably get worse.
Source: Cycle of Violence information adapted from My Sister's
Place, Washington, DC
If you have
noticed that you or someone you know is in a cycle of violence,
contact the Counseling Center (410.543.6070) and make an
appointment to talk about
how you can stop the cycle.
If you are abusive
to your partner, help is available to you too. Contact the
Counseling Center to schedule an appointment.