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20.7% of SUNY Oneonta students reported that relationship difficulty affected their academic performance in some way (missed class, lower grade).

In the fall of 2008, 14.8% of SUNY Oneonta students reported experiencing an emotionally abusive relationship within the previous 12 months (18 % of females & 7% of males.) 3.6% experienced a physically abusive relationship and 1.2% experienced a sexually abusive relationship.

*This data came from the American College Health Association College Health Survey done on our campus during the Fall of 2008. The survey gathered information on a variety of health issues, for more information contact the Office of Health Education at x3540. If you'd like to see national reference data visit www.acha-ncha.org.

What is Relationship Violence?

Relationship violence is also known as domestic violence, dating violence, partner violence or intimates’ violence. Relationship violence can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, race, religion, etc.

Relationship violence is not an argument once in a while and it’s not the occasional bad mood. Healthy relationships take hard work, and no one is perfect.

Relationship violence is a pattern of violent behavior.

Stereotypically we think of this violent behavior as physical behaviors that result in injury or even murder. However, this violent behavior or abuse can take many forms.

Types of Abuse

Any behavior which hurts, physically harms or is intended to do so.

Physical abuse includes: pushing, throwing, kicking, slapping, grabbing, hitting, punching, beating, tripping, battering, bruising, choking, shaking, pinching, biting, holding, restraining, confinement, breaking bones, assault with a weapon such as a knife or gun, burning, murder.

Physical abuse could also be violence to an object (such as a wall or piece of furniture) or pet, in the presence of the intended victim, as a way of instilling fear of further violence, making the victim remain on the premises after a fight, or leaving them somewhere else after a fight, just to “teach them a lesson.

May include: threatening or intimidating, yelling or screaming, name-calling, constant harassment, embarrassing, making fun of, or mocking the victim, either alone , in public, or in front of family or friends, insulting you or your family, being sarcastic about or criticizing your interests, opinions or beliefs, not trusting the victim’s decision-making, telling the victim that they are worthless on their own, without the abuser, saying hurtful things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and using the substance as an excuse to say the hurtful things, blaming the victim for how the abuser acts or feels, refusing to discuss issues which are important to you, leaving nasty messages, accusing you of unfaithfulness, not trying hard enough or purposely doing something to annoy.

Is often is linked to physical abuse; they may occur together, or the sexual abuse may occur after a bout of physical abuse.

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Sexual Assault: forcing someone to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity
  • Sexual Harassment: ridiculing another person to try to limit their sexuality or reproductive choices
  • Sexual Exploitation: such as forcing someone to look at pornography, or forcing someone to participate in pornographic film-making.

Sexual Abuse can involve any of the following: excessive jealousy, calling you sexually derogatory names, criticizing you sexually, forcing unwanted sexual act, forcing you to strip, sadistic sexual acts, withholding ,sex and/or affection, minimizing or denying your feelings about sex or sexual preferences, forcing sex after physical assault, using coercion to force sex, taking unwanted sexual photos, forcing you into prostitution, forcing sex when you are ill or tired.

Describes abuses that exploit emotions and result in damaged self-esteem. The term ’psychological abuse’ is sometimes used to describe the mental anguish felt by some victims. Emotional abuse takes on several typical forms:

Rejecting, experiences in which an individual’s presence, value, or worth is not acknowledged/recognized by another individual; communication to another individual that they are worthless and/or inferior to others; devaluing one’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, etc.

Isolating, this can range from the extreme of physical confinement of another individual to lesser forms of isolation, including limiting one’s freedom within their environment and/or restricting normal contact with others. This might present as excessive checking up on the victim.

Degrading, identified as behavior which negatively impacts the identity, self-worth, and dignity of another person; this may involve name calling, ridicule, insults, intimidation, and condescending commentary.

Exploiting/Corrupting – exploitation of another person for one’s own advantage or profit; socializing another individual to accept ideas, behavior, etc. that opposes legal standards and/or crosses personal boundaries.

Terrorizing – ongoing threatening behavior/commentary towards another individual such that intense terror or fear is induced; may involve elements of coercion by intimidation

Denying Emotional Responsiveness – occurs when an individual fails to provide care/concern in a sensitive and responsive manner to their significant other; this may occur when an individual interacts only when necessary, is uninvolved and detached, and ignores another person’s emotional and/or physical needs.

When threats are made within a violent relationship they can be as debilitating as the violence itself. A victim who has already suffered being battered need not imagine the result of displeasing the abuser, or doubt the abuser's ability to carry out the threats. Even where the victim has not been physically assaulted, the abuser will often demonstrate his ability to harm her by punching walls or furniture, kicking the cat/dog, or using aggressive behavior.

However, many threats are not physical but part of the ongoing emotional abuse. Whether the threats are of a physical, sexual or emotional nature, they are all designed to further control the victim by instilling fear and ensuring compliance. The abuser becomes not only the source of pain and abuse but also the protector, as he is also the person who can prevent the threatened action, increasing the victim's dependence on him.

Is another type of abuse that could be physical, verbal and/or emotional.

Forms of Isolation include: checking up on you, accusing you of unfaithfulness, moving to an isolated area, ensuring you lack transport or a telephone, making your friends or family feel uncomfortable when visiting so that they cease, punishing you for being 10 minutes late home from work by complaining, bad moods, criticism or physical abuse, not allowing you to leave the house on your own, demanding a report on your actions and conversations, preventing you from working, not allowing any activity which excludes him, , finding fault with your friends/family, insisting on taking you to and collecting you from work.

Economic/Financial Abuse includes: preventing you from getting or keeping a job, having to account for every penny spent, denying access to checkbook/account/finances, putting all bills in your name, demanding your paychecks, spending money allocated to bills/groceries on himself, forcing you to beg or commit crimes for money, not permitting you to spend available funds on yourself, preventing you from working.

Spiritual Abuse includes: using your religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate you, preventing you from practicing your religious or spiritual beliefs, ridiculing your religious or spiritual beliefs.

The Cycle of Violence

The cycle of violence is the term used to describe the pattern of abusive behavior. Once the cycle of violence has begun, movement through the stages happens at a faster and faster rate and the violent acts gain intensity.

During the Tension Building phase the abused partner walks on eggshells, monitors the abuser's behavior carefully and waits for violence to explode. The victim feels escalating fear and tension as the abuser exerts power and increases control.

The Trigger is the excuse the abuser uses to act out against the victim. A trigger may be anything and is part of the abuse - a misplaced book, a piece of burned toast, a look or a wrinkle in a shirt.

The Explosion is the act of violence against the victim. It could be physical, emotional or both The victim experiences Fear during the

Tension Building and the Explosion phases

In the Honeymoon, the abuser has exerted control and wants to maintain it. The abuser promises "never to do it again," and says things like "if only you hadn't done that." Or the abuser sends flowers to work, buys the victim a present or some other token to make it okay again. Over time the Honeymoon phase often disappears. At this point the cycle may go from Tension Building to Explosion repeatedly.

The victim may feel a sense of Hope during the Honeymoon phase. During the entire cycle, the victim can be in Denial that anything is going to happen, denial while being abused and denial that it will happen again.


Office of Health Education
Counseling, Health, and Wellness Center
(607) 436-3368

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