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What to Do If You Are a Victim of Relationship Violence

Relationship violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner through the use of fear, intimidation, or threats. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound another person. Relationship violence may take the form of emotional, psychological, sexual, and/or physical abuse. The potential for harm intensifies significantly as the victim attempts to break free from the violence. As a result, leaving an abusive relationship is a process that should be planned. Regardless of whether or not you plan on leaving the relationship, there are steps you can take to increase your overall safety. The abuse is not your fault. Help is available.

1. Get to a safe place.
Safety should be your number one priority.

2. Call the police.
You may contact the police to file a report and receive assistance with an order of protection or restraining order. If the assault took place on-campus, contact the UTA Police Department (817-272-3003). If the assault took place off-campus, contact Arlington Police Department (911) for assistance.

3. Seek medical attention.
Seek medical attention for any injuries you may have sustained. You may receive medical treatment at Arlington Memorial Hospital (817-548-6100), the UTA Student Health Center (817-272-2771), or your private physician. Keep in mind that some injuries may be internal, so be as specific as possible with your doctor when explaining your injuries.

4. Plan for your safety.
It is important to plan for your safety whether or not you are ready to leave the relationship. The Relationship Violence and Sexual Assault Program can assist you with developing a personalized safety plan, including residence relocation, telephone number change, escorts to class/work, emergency cell phones, restraining orders and orders of protection, and much more. If you are being stalked, it is important to document the stalking behavior through a "stalking log" and save all evidence (i.e. telephone messages, emails, letters, etc.).

5. Seek emotional support.
Follow-up counseling can help you to cope with this difficult time. Free counseling is offered to UTA students through Counseling Services (817-272-3671). You can also receive services from UTA Mental Health Services (817-272-2771). Safe Haven of Tarrant County is a community organization that offers counseling, support, and a 24-hour hotline for victims of intimate violence (877-701-7233).

What you Should Know

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) remains a pervasive problem throughout the United States. Research indicates that dating/domestic violence may the most underreported crime in our country. Over 20% of female college students will suffer from some form of dating/domestic violence. Anyone can be the victim of dating/domestic violence. Dating/domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Dating/domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, and gender. Dating and domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Intimate Partner Violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationship and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating (NCADV, 2007). The UTA community acknowledges that relationship violence does occur on college campuses and is actively working to educate, intervene, and support victims of relationship violence. Please seek help if you have been assaulted or abused.

You are Never to Blame!! Relationship Violence Is Never Your Fault!

The Cycle of Violence

Dr. Lenore Walker, in her book The Battered Woman, first identified the cycle of violence which describes the abusive cycles in a dating or domestic violence relationships. Familiarizing yourself with the cycle of violence may help better predict your abusers next actions.

Phase I: The tension Building
During this phase, the tension between a couple builds and arguments erupt easily. This is when accusations are made, everyday occurrences become unbearable disturbances and tension in the environment increases. There may be violent verbal outbursts, strained silences or sulking. Many women describe this as "walking on eggshells".

This phase may last only a day or two, or it could go on for several months or even years.

Phase II: The acute incident
This is when the actual "fight" occurs. There may be slapping, pushing, hitting, biting, kicking, or shoving. There may be threats or the use of a weapon, sexual abuse, or even murder.

Phase III: The honeymoon
In this phase of the cycle, the batter makes many apologies and promises that will never happen again. There may be a honeymoon-like euphoria while the couple "makes up" with presents, flowers, romantic dinners out. The victim begins to hope that the batterer is genuinely remorseful, and chooses to believe that the violence will not happen again. This phase slowly dissolves into the tension building phase, and the cycle repeats itself.

The duration of each phase varies, and will change over time. The Honeymoon Phases will become shorter, as the abuser begins to threaten even worse harm if the victim dares to leave. The Tension Building Phase quickly absorbs honeymoon time and often completely replaces it. As the abuse becomes more frequent and severe, the couple moves through the cycle more quickly. Most abusive relationships begin with verbal abuse, and then move into violence, which escalates and becomes more deadly the longer the couple is together. Many victims of abuse hang on to the belief that "the real person" will someday return for good. But they do not realize that the abuser is "the real person."

Who to Talk to

The RVSP coordinator on campus can assist you in reviewing the options you have and making referrals to appropriate agencies when needed. You can utilize one or all of these possible services. Some options you may want to pursue include:

  • Filing a report with the UTA Campus Police, Arlington Police Department, or other police fepartments
  • Pursuing campus and judicial intervention
  • Academic or administrative intervention - altering academic schedules or housing arrangements if necessary
  • Medical care for treatment of injuries
  • Psychological care for intimate partner related trauma and experiences and your emotional well being
  • Legal assistance or referral if necessary

Checklist for Leaving

  • Identification (photo ID, passport, driver's license)
  • Birth certificates
  • Social Security cards
  • Leases/deeds in your name
  • School and medical records (insurance cards, documents)
  • Checkbook, charge cards, bank statements
  • Medications
  • Change of clothes
  • Address book
  • Pictures, jewelry, items of sentimental value
  • If you have children, take a few of their favorite toys and blankets