Relationship violence

Being in a controlling relationship can isolate you from those around you. Connecting to support is important for anyone experiencing relationship violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship violence, it can be hard to know what to do next. Know that you are not alone.

What is relationship violence?

Relationship violence is a pattern of behaviors meant to control someone, coerce them into doing things they might not want to and isolate them from others. It can include the use of physical and sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse and controlling of finances. Physical abuse does not have to be present for it to be a controlling and abusive relationship. An abuser may use many different controlling behaviors within an intimate relationship. Relationship violence affects people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, social classes, ages and abilities.

Know the signs

  • Isolation from friends, family, work or social activities
  • Emotional abuse — name-calling or constant put-downs
  • Extreme jealousy, constant calling or texting to find out where the person is and who they are with
  • Demanding social media passwords
  • Dominating finances
  • Physical assault and unexplained injuries
  • Threatening suicide if the victim ends the relationship

Supporting a friend or colleague

Your response when a friend or colleague shares with you that they are experiencing relationship violence will go a long way in helping them feel supported and may impact whether they choose to seek additional help. Please consider taking these steps when someone discloses to you:

  • Validate: Believe them and thank them for sharing with you.
  • Listen: Ask how you can help.
  • Connect: Share with them that there are resources on campus to support them.
  • Consult: Call SafeCampus to determine options or share safety concerns.
  • Self-care: Take care of yourself and be aware of your own feelings.

To learn more about supporting a friend or colleague, visit UW How to Help a Friend.

UW Resources and confidential advocates

The University of Washington offers free confidential advocacy for students and employees affected by relationship violence and related experiences. Advocates can help you learn about available resources, your rights and reporting options. They can support you in making a holistic plan for managing and reducing the impact of your experience.

Meeting with an advocate will not automatically trigger any kind of investigation by the University or the police.

Learn more about Title IX, additional resources and how an advocate can support you at the UW Sexual Assault Resources and Advocacy site.

If you are aware of relationship violence

Relationship violence may be a form of sexual misconduct and a violation of Title IX.

If you are a UW student employee, staff or faculty member who has received a disclosure, visit UW’s Title IX protocol page to learn what to do next.

If you are a student and wondering how to support your friend, roommate or peer, please visit UW How to Help a Friend.

Make a formal report

If you would like to make a formal report the University of Washington has several designated offices responsible for responding to, investigating, and resolving complaints. Please visit the Title IX Make a Report page to learn more.

Protection orders

Please visit our protection orders page to learn what a protection order is and to consider whether you would like to seek one for yourself.