What is relationship violence?

What is relationship violence?

Relationship violence is defined as any hurtful or unwanted physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional act inflicted by a casual or intimate partner with the intention, either real or perceived, of causing pain or injury on the other partner.

Relationship violence can occur in any intimate relationship, regardless of the gender of the perpetrator and/or victim, and affects LGBTQ relationships as well as heterosexual relationships. Relationship violence is about one partner attempting to control the actions, behavior, and emotions of another partner. For information regarding the negative cycle s of power and control involved in relationship violence, please see the wheels pictured below.

Examples of abusive behavior in a relationship include:

  • Being sworn at (verbal)
  • Statements such as “nobody else would want you” (verbal)
  • Continuous criticism of behavior and/or appearance (verbal)
  • Withholding of affection (emotional)
  • Manipulation with lies and/or broken promises (emotional)
  • Having objects thrown at you (physical)
  • Being threatened with a weapon (physical)
  • Being hit, bitten, punched, slapped, or shoved (physical)
  • Rape (sexual)
  • Intense jealousy (sexual)
Physical and Sexual Violence
Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's Domestic Violence Fact Sheet, July 2007.
Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

ECSU has many resources available if you have been or are currently a victim of relationship violence. If you are still in a violent relationship, resources are available to help you safety plan (please click here. Please let someone in a leadership role on campus know if you need help, or if you know someone else who needs help.

For an emergency, call 911. To speak with a 24/7 rape crisis hotline operator, please call 252.338.3011.


The Facts

From Forke, Myers, Catallozzi & Schwarz, 2008

  • 45% of college students have experienced relationship violence at some point in their lives
  • 21%-53% of college students have experienced at least one incident of dating violence (Worth, Matthew & Coleman, 1990)
  • 53% of women and 27% of men reported being victims of violence
  • >50% of violent events during college involved an intimate partner, rather than a friend or acquaintance