Relationship Violence

Everyone deserves to feel physically and emotionally safe in their personal relationships, whether it's with family members, partners, or spouses. This page offers a place to learn more about relationship violence and how to get help if you think you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship. 

What is relationship violence?

Relationship violence can occur in various kinds of personal relationships, such as between:

  • family members 
  • spouses or partners
  • people who are or were dating or hooking up 

Relationship violence can happen to anyone. It can take place in private or public spaces and between people of different or the same gender identities. Relationship violence can also be called domestic violence, intimate partner violence (IPV), dating violence, or family violence. 

Types of Harm

Harm does not only have to be physical or sexual; it can include other forms of abuse in which the abusive partner seeks to dominate and control the other through intimidation and fear. Relationship violence may include various types of harm:

  • Physical harm: punching, hitting, slapping, shoving, restraining a partner against their will, or anything else that harms the partner physically or makes them feel physically unsafe
  • Stalking: repeatedly following or contacting a person in a way that makes them fear for their personal safety or the safety of others (children, family, pets, or friends)
  • Sexual violence: any sexual act or any act targeting a person’s sexuality, gender identity or gender expression that is committed, threatened, or attempted against a person without the person's consent.
  • Emotional/verbal abuse: using words or actions to control, frighten, or isolate someone or take away their self-respect
  • Financial abuse: controlling or misusing a partner's finances (money, assets or property), making the partner account for every penny, not permitting the partner to work or have their own income, making all the financial decisions, etc.
  • Spiritual abuse: using a partner’s spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate or control them
  • Reproductive abuse: controlling reproductive choices, pregnancy outcomes, and/or access to health services.
  • Cyberviolence: using technology to establish power and control by causing fear and/or intimidation, monitoring the partner's social media profiles or emails, sending harassing messages through social media, texts, or emails, sharing intimate photos or videos without the partner's consent, using GPS locators or spyware to track a partner's activities

Warning Signs of Relationship Violence

Although each situation and relationship is unique, there are similarities among abusive relationships. The following list may help you to recognize if you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship. Some warning signs of an abusive relationship could be:

  • Checking your phone, email, or social media accounts without your permission
  • Isolating you from friends or family
  • Being extremely jealous or insecure or demonstrating possessive or controlling behaviour
  • Having explosive outbursts, temper, or mood swings
  • Physically harming you in any way
  • Inquiring constantly about where you are going and who you are with
  • Threatening to to hurt you, your family members, or pets
  • Pressuring you to have sex with them or other people
  • Calling you derogatory names in an attempt to reduce your self-esteem
  • Limiting your access to financial resources and requiring you to get their permission about any financial decisions

Where to get help

We know how difficult it can be to ask for help if you feel unsafe in any relationships. The case managers at the Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office are available to connect with you, learn about your experience, and help you to get the supports, information and resources that you need. We are able to assist with personalized safety planning, as well as referrals to both on and off campus resources.

We will not judge you or your circumstances, and we will respect your decisions. You are able to connect with us to simply ask questions and learn about options, and you can choose to engage with our services at the times when it feels right to you.

To learn about other campus and community support services, visit our Get Help pages: