Also known as Relationship Violence, Dating Violence or Domestic Violence.
Among college students, studies show that nine out of ten sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone known to the victim in some capacity—friend, a date, an acquaintance, a classmate, a family member, a caretaker, a coworker, or an intimate partner.1
Statistics have shown that a significant number of those who experience a sexual assault are sexually assaulted by an intimate partner. One study shows that of people who reported sexual violence, 64% of women and 16% of men were raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. This includes a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend/girlfriend, or date.1
In intimate relationships, sexual violence can become one of the many abusive tactics a person will use to maintain power and control over a partner. Often, it is difficult for a person who has experienced sexual assault in these situations to recognize his or her experience as sexual assault. Indeed, sexual assault or sexual coercion can often be only a part of a larger pattern of other forms of abuse that are taking place in the relationship. A person who experiences sexual assault or coercion in their relationship can also be experiencing emotional, verbal, psychological or physical abuse as well.
Sexual assault or coercion within an intimate relationship can take many forms. A few examples:
Often, because of the control and power that one person has over another person in an unhealthy relationship, it may be harder for someone experiencing intimate partner sexual assault to come forward and seek help. This person could be caught in a cycle of violence and abuse that often happens in abusive relationships. He or she may feel isolated, embarrassed, ashamed, guilty, afraid of the partner, afraid to leave, and/or depressed.
It is important that individuals experiencing intimate partner violence receive the same compassion and care as other survivors of sexual assault. In fact, maintaining safety and seeking help could be more complicated for victims of intimate partner sexual assault. For more information on unhealthy or abusive relationships, please contact the Sexual Assault Awareness Program (SAAP) Coordinator to learn what you can do to help a friend who might be experiencing abuse in a relationship.
In an abusive relationship the partner being abused tends to fall into something known as the Cycle of Violence. This cycle includes three phases, a tension building phase, an abusive phase, and the apology phase, commonly known as the 'Honeymoon' phase. Once in this cycle, it occurs over and over again with the partner being abused stays in the relationship after the abuse because the abuser apologizes, makes amends and promises never to do the abusive behavior again. The partner being abused is either in denial that the abuse is taking place or has eternal hope that they can change the abuser, that things will get better or that the abuser is really sorry this time and will never do it again. Before long, the tension begins to build and once again the abuse take place. Over time the cycle starts to spin faster and faster and each time the abuse escalates.
Are you dating or hooking up with someone who...
If you answered 'yes' to any of the above statements you may be in an abusive relationship and should really consider getting help! Call or blitz a SAAP Coordinator, SAPA, or call WISE's Crisis Hotline for help (1-866-348-9473).
Last Updated: 6/17/12