Relationship Violence

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What is Relationship Violence?

Relationship violence is defined as intentionally violent or controlling behavior by a person who is currently or was previously in a relationship with the victim. Relationship violence includes actual or threatened physical injury, sexual assault, psychological abuse, economic control, and/or progressive social isolation. Relationship violence occurs in heterosexual and same sex relationships.

This information is focused on romantic relationships. The same resources can be used for interpersonal violence between roommates.

How Do I Know it is Relationship Violence?

Does your partner exhibit a pattern of controlling behavior: 

  • Acting jealous all of the time
  • Criticizing your behavior and with whom you spend time
  • Using looks, actions, or gestures that make you afraid
  • Expecting you to ask permission
  • Threatening to ‘out’ you, yelling at you, humiliating you or putting you down
  • Checking up on you, playing mind games, or making you feel as if you are crazy
  • Insisting on making all the decisions

Has your partner ever: 

  • Insisted on having sex or pressured you to do something sexual when you didn’t want to pushed, slapped, bit, kicked, or choked you
  • Threatened to kill you or anyone dear to you
  • Threatened to commit suicide

Do you feel: 

  • Like you are walking on eggshells
  • That you have to call your friends in secret
  • That you must dress a certain way to keep your partner from getting upset

For example:

  • My partner yelled at me for being late for lunch. It was so humiliating. My partner grabbed my arm, and we left the dining hall. I was really upset. Later we made up and, my partner was so sorry for embarrassing me. Things are OK now though I wonder when it will happen again.
  • My partner hates it when I spend time with my friends. I feel like I have to sneak around. The other day, my partner got angry about seeing me with a good friend and wouldn’t speak to me for several days. When I apologized for seeing my friends without permission, we made up. We have a really good time together as long as I don’t hang out with my friends.

Remember, if you are a victim of relationship violence, it is not your fault.

Do any of these examples describe your relationship? Or that of a friend? Do you feel like your relationship might be unhealthy or unsafe? Uncertainty about the health of your relationship can be confusing and feel overwhelming. You might want to talk to someone about your concerns.

What Can I Do?

  • Talk to family and friends who can offer support
  • Talk to professionals who can help you decide what options will work best for your situation

If You are Thinking of Leaving Your Relationship

  • Most people find it increases their safety to talk to someone about their plans for ending a relationship before they actually take steps to end it
  • Identify friends or family who live nearby with whom you can stay
  • Think about obtaining a restraining order with support from Tufts Police or with an advocate from an off-campus organization like RESPOND
  • Talk with one of the on-campus resources listed below about the possibility of relocating to university emergency housing or, on the Medford/Somerville Campus, obtaining an on-campus no contact order issued by the Dean of Student Affairs Office.

If in Danger, Call the Police

Tufts Police:

  • Medford/Somerville: 617-627-6911 or x66911
  • Boston: 617-636-6911 or x66911
  • Grafton: 508-839-5303 or x66911

Local Police: 911

You can contact the Tufts Police by activating one of the blue light phones. Tufts Police can help with the following: transportation to the hospital, safe housing on campus, reporting the assault if you wish to do so, and obtaining a restraining order.

Helping a Friend in an Unsafe Relationship

  • Let the person know you support and care about them
  • Tell them they do not deserve to be abused
  • Share your concern for their safety
  • Inform them about available resources
  • Encourage them to utilize the resources
  • Take advantage of these resources, yourself and increase your knowledge about ways to be helpful

View more resources on relationship violence see link to Resource List (PDF)