Relationship Violence

Unfortunately during your time as a student at UA, you will likely learn that a friend, colleague, or roommate will be involved in a relationship that is abusive and/or violent. It’s hard to know how to respond to a person you believe is being harmed in her/his relationship and it is also very hard to speak with those individuals we believe are doing the harm. We hope the following information will help you respond in a supportive and compassionate manner. If you need help or guidance, do not hesitate to contact the OASIS Sexual Assault and Trauma Services at 626-2051 M-F, 8am-5pm.

How would I know if my friend is being abused?

Relationship violence rarely comes “out of nowhere.” However, we often overlook or try to reason away cues that can be predictive of relationship violence.

Does your friend’s partner engage in the following emotionally abusive behaviors?

  • Insults him

  • Discounts her feelings or opinions

  • Sulks when he initiates an idea

  • Becomes irritated by small mistakes and calls attention to her mistakes

  • Make belittling comments

  • Ignores him

  • Rejects her desires

  • Make comments that lead him to feel not good enough

  • Blames her for all relationship problems or for the partner’s mistakes

Does your friend’s partner engage in attempts at non-physical control?

  • Becomes hurt or jealous when he spends time with other people

  • Attempts to tell her how to dress or puts her down for her decisions regarding her appearance

  • Becomes angry when he offers to pay for a date or refuses to share expenses

  • Tells her who she can be friends with

  • Tries to alienate him from his family

  • Invades her “personal space” (sits too close, must hold hands in public spaces, continues to touch her even when she has brushed off their physical attention, calls at inappropriate hours)

  • Is angry and threatening to the extent that your roommate has changed his life so as not to anger his partner

  • Encourages her to drop hobbies and interests or requests to accompany her to activities (and makes her miserable while there)

  • Attempts to change every “no” to “maybe” or “yes”

  • Checks up on him. Keeps track of where he is. Asks 20 questions when returning alone from an activity.

Does your friend’s partner speak of negative beliefs/stereotypes regarding the opposite sex?

  • Talks negatively about women or men in general

  • Does not view others as equals

  • Views self as superior

  • Believes they are entitled to do what ever they want to do

Does your friend’s partner have difficulties handling frustration, anger and other emotions?

  • Fights with others

  • Makes threats towards others

  • Drives fast when angry

  • Has a history of becoming violent

  • Cycles between mean and nice periods. Moods vacillate between very happy to upset.

  • Is unable to handle sexual and emotional frustrations without becoming angry

  • Panics at the thought of breaking up

How can I help a friend who is in a violent relationship?

  • Talk, listen, respect, and be emotionally available.

  • Accept the fact that the assault/abuse has happened or is happening.

  • Understand that it is not your friend’s fault.

  • Listen non-judgmentally.

  • Suggest options and actions (medical, psychological and other assistance such as childcare, financial options, shelter, and safety planning), but let him decide what action to take.

  • Let her talk about the abuse, but don't force a discussion.

  • Take the initiative to maintain communications with the survivor.

  • Do not attempt to moderate between the individual and their abuser.

  • Moderate your natural tendencies to become overprotective.

  • Offer shelter if possible, but know and communicate your limits about your own safety and needs.

  • Don’t minimize the abuse that has occurred.

  • Understand the individual could be in more danger if they are to leave the relationship, and that this decision is often the most complicated decision to make.

  • Do not blame yourself. The only person who is at fault is the person who committed the harm.

  • Educate yourself on relationship violence and services available.

  • Talk with people you can trust and take care of your own emotional/physical health.

  • Know the myths and realities of relationship violence.

How can I respond when I think my friend is abusing their partner?

  • If you feel safe enough, say something to your friend. Be honest and direct, while not automatically accusing the individual.
  • If you do not feel it is safe for you to say something, get to a safe place and call UAPD or the local police.
  • Speak up; do not be persuaded to do nothing by assuming others will say or do something about the situation or thinking it is none of your business.
  • If you are not sure if the behavior is abusive, call the Oasis Program to consult about what you have noticed.
  • Know and share resources with your friend (i.e. counseling services).
  • Be patient and do not hesitate to bring the subject up several times with your friend (if needed and you feel comfortable).
  • Remember to take care of yourself, as these situations can take a toll on everyone involved.
  • Know the myths and realities of relationship violence.


National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Help and References on Relationship Violence