Relationship abuse/violence is often very hard to identify. Relationship violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of size, gender, strength, age, or sexual orientation. Many people do not consider themselves abused, so they don’t recognize “warning signs” for abuse. The problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars. Relationship abuse and violence are common among college students.
Some of the signs of relationship abuse and violence include:
- Being afraid of your partner. If you feel like you have to “walk on eggshells” to keep your partner from blowing up, this is a strong sign of abuse.
- Being belittled, criticized, or put down.
- Always having to “check-in” or being checked on. Having a partner who needs to know your whereabouts every hour of the day. A friend may check in with their partner more often than seems necessary.
- Being afraid to or not able to do things you want to do, or spend time with people other than your partner. A friend may turn down invitations to hang out or go places.
- Being yelled at, called names, or shamed.
- Being threatened with physical violence.
- Having your finances rigidly controlled.
- Someone who is physically abused may skip work or class, wear clothing to hide bruises or scars, or have a lot of accidental “injuries”.
Technology (texting, Facebook, etc.) is increasingly the weapon of choice.
You and a friend live in the same area of the apartments. You walk by her apartment and hear her crying. In the past, she has shared with you that her boyfriend yells at her, humiliates her, and always wants to know where she is and who she's with. She also says he won't let her do things she wants to. It appears she has some fresh bruises around her eye and on her arms. What do you do?
Make the first move:
- Talk about what a healthy relationship looks like.
- Ask her if everything is ok. Listen to what she has to say.
- Let her know that you are concerned.
- Reassure her that you will keep the conversation confidential.
- Know some resources that can help her (Albion Fellows Bacon Center).
- If a friend is being cyber-bullied or cyber-stalked, encourage her to save copies of all electronic communications and webpages (not just bookmark them). Cyber-bullying and cyber-stalking are crimes and should be reported.
We express our appreciation to the University of Arizona C.A.T.S. Life Skills Program for allowing us to use modified versions of their STEP UP! Program content in this USI campus initiative.