Relationship violence

Experiencing a controlling relationship can isolate you from those around you. Connecting to support is important for you or anyone who may be experiencing relationship violence. It can be hard to determine what to do next if you or someone you know is experiencing relationship violence. Know that you are not alone.

What is relationship violence?

Relationship violence is a pattern of behaviors meant to control someone else, 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. Many different controlling behaviors can be occurring at any one time within the same 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 — calling names or constant put-downs
  • Extreme jealousy, constant calling or texting to find out where someone is and who they are with
  • Demanding social media passwords
  • Dominating finances
  • Physical assault and unexplained injuries
  • Threatening suicide if you end 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 any safety concerns.
  • Self-care: Take care of yourself and be aware of your own feelings.

Confidential campus advocates

The University of Washington offers free confidential advocacy for students and employees affected by relationship violence and other related experiences. Advocates can help you learn about resources that are available to you, your rights and reporting options. Additionally, 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 how an advocate can support you and how to contact them at the UW Sexual Assault Resources and Advocacy site.

Relationship violence and Title IX

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

Protection orders

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