What is relationship violence?
Relationship violence is a term that encompasses domestic violence, dating violence, and intimate partner violence. It involves a pattern of behavior in which someone tries to control and exert power over a current or former partner. It can include emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Some common forms of relationship violence include:
1. Telling you that no one else would want you.
2. Being jealous of time you spend with others.
3. Reading your mail, email, and texts.
4. Hitting, shoving, and other forms of physical abuse.
5. Coercing and forcing sexual activity.
How common is relationship violence?
Relationship violence is extremely common. Although much of the focus is on women who experience violence from men, as the majority of people who are abused are women, men can also experience relationship violence and women can be perpetrators.
It is important to note that we still do not understand much about men experiencing domestic violence. Social norms emphasize both that men are supposed to be "strong" - and therefore cannot be abused - and that women are supposed to be "weak" - and therefore cannot abuse. There is growing evidence that the number of men experiencing relationship violence is far higher than ever believed.
What if I am in a violent relationship?
Many people who are experiencing relationship violence have been isolated from others by their abuser. You may begin to believe that you deserve the abuse or that the situation is hopeless. This is perfectly normal and natural, but the abuse is NOT your fault. You may recognize some of the behaviors below; these are done in an effort to gain power and control over your life. (Please note that the power and control wheel assumes a "traditional" heterosexual female being abused, but the same actions apply regardless of the sex or gender of the abuser and the abused.)
If you are experiencing relationship violence:
1. You are not alone. One of the key things an abuser tries to do is isolate you.
You are not alone and can seek help from many sources.
2. Finding social support is vital. If you are not comfortable speaking to a friend/family member, or to anyone face to face, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or one of the domestic violence organizations located in your county (Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, YWCA Harrisburg, or A Way Out; numbers are below).
3. Create a safety plan. You can work with an advocate (such as someone from the Clinton County Women's Center), a friend/family member, or on your own to create a safety plan. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has an excellent resource for safety planning.
4. Remember that you know your relationship best; do not allow others to convince you to go against your instincts about what is safest for you.
It is important to consider reporting the abuse. You can choose to report the assault anonymously or formally. Please visit our Reporting page for more information. The page also explains legal requirements that the University has in reporting relationship violence.
An anonymous report should be made to Public Safety and to the University Title IX
Coordinator (Deana Hill) or Deputy Title IX Coordinator (Jamie Shipe). If you would
rather not make the report by yourself, please contact the HOPE Center and we will
assist you in making the report. We understand the difficulty in making a formal report
- and the danger. If you choose to make an anonymous report, we will not pressure
you in any way to make it a formal report. Anonymous reports of sexual assault, relationship
violence, and stalking to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator
must include your name. Your name is privileged information; the Title IX Coordinator
will follow up with you to make sure you are aware of your rights, but will not conduct
any formal investigations if you request that the information go no further. The Title
IX Coordinator, however, must look into any patterns within the University that may
have contributed to the violence.
A formal report can be made if you would like to press charges. You should contact Public Safety to make a report.
Reaching out to others and seeking support can be a huge help in recovering from the effects of relationship violence. In addition to contacting a friend or family member for support, consider contacting:
1. The HOPE Center (570-484-2111; hours vary by semester)
2. The Clinton County Women's Center at (570) 748-9509, a 24 hour hotline (Lock Haven campus)
3. PASSAGES, Inc at (814) 371-9677 (Clearfield campus)
4. A Way Out at (877) 334-3136 (Coudersport)
5. YWCA Greater Harrisburg at (800) 654-1211 (Dixon Center)
Volunteers or staff from the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, A Way Out, or YWCA Greater Harrisburg can help you with understanding Protection From Abuse Orders if you would like to explore that possibility, as well as in creating a safety plan.
What happens next?
As a result of the abuse, you may find that you need more than the social support of friends or family. This is completely normal and you should not hesitate to seek counseling from others. Lock Haven University's Counseling Center (570-484-2479) is available for psychological counseling, while the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, A Way Out, and YWCA Greater Harrisburg offer options counseling, a type of social support counseling that focuses more on available resources than psychological therapies. You may also find talking to a spiritual leader helpful.
What if someone I know is in a violent relationship?
The statistics on the number of people who experience relationship violence are high, especially on college campuses. Odds are that you will know someone during your college career that has experienced relationship violence. That person may ask you for advice or social support. This can be overwhelming, but being supportive often comes down to simply listening to your friend. Here are some tips for supporting someone who has experienced relationship violence.
1. Listen to your friend. Understand that your friend has been made to fill unworthy by the abuse. Simply listening can help rebuild his or her sense of worth.
2. Believe the person - do not question his or her story, simply trust that it is
3. Trust your friend's instincts and understanding of the relationship. It is not always safe to leave a relationship; provide any support the person asks for, but do not insist the person leave the relationship.
4. Offer to assist your friend with any part of a safety plan he or she creates. This is best done with the help of victim advocates, but if your friend would like help creating a safety plan, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has an excellent resource for safety planning.
5. Give the person the power - don't offer advice, ask how you can help.
6. If the person asks for help, be able to offer sources of support.
a. The HOPE Center
b. the Clinton County Women's Center, PASSAGES, A Way Out, or YWCA Greater Harrisburg
c. The Counseling Center
d. Public Safety
7. Remain aware of your own needs; if you need to seek help and support, do so.
8. Understand that you may be required by Title IX or Clery to report what you have learned to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Be honest with your friend about this. Recognize any discomfort you feel about having to report. Your discomfort is completely valid; share it with the person who has talked with you as well.