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Relationship Violence

Dating and forming romantic relationships can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of going to college. Under healthy circumstances engaging in romantic relationships promotes a sense of personal joy and well being, a feeling of connectedness, and of personal growth and expansion. Unfortunately, however, there is growing evidence that some romantic relationships on the college campus are characterized by physical and/or emotional violence and abuse. Studies of dating relationships on the college campus reveal that at least 20% of college students have experienced relationship violence themselves, and that at least 70% knew someone who had experienced relationship violence.

In this section, we will define the problem, make you aware of warning signs and symptoms, and suggest possible solutions to dealing with relationship violence.

Defining the Problem

Relationship violence can be defined as a pattern of coercive control which one person exerts over the other in order to dominate and to get his or her way. Their behavior physically or emotionally harms the other person, creates anxiety and fear, prevents the person from doing what he or she wants, or makes them behave in ways that they have not freely chosen.

Warning Signs of Abusive/Violent Relationships

  • Your partner tries to control and manipulate you;
  • Your partner is very jealous and possessive;
  • Your partner is critical of you and various aspects of how you live your life;
  • Your partner calls you names, curses and/or yells at you;
  • Your partner makes you feel bad about yourself;
  • Your partner publicly humiliates you;
  • Your partner is physically abusive - pushes, shoves, grabs, and/or hits you;
  • Your partner plays mind games with you;
  • Your partner insists on knowing where you are at all times;
  • Your partner tries to physically prevent you from going where you want to go;
  • You sometimes feel nervous and frightened around your partner; you feel like you're "walking on egg shells";
  • Your partner tries to isolate you from friends and family by being critical of them and/or voicing resentment when you spend time with them;
  • Your partner has rules for various aspects of your behavior;
  • Your partner insists on controlling the way you dress;
  • Your partner becomes angry when you pay attention or even look at other people;
  • There are things that you are afraid to tell your partner;
  • Your partner minimizes, denies or shifts the blame about his or her abusive/violent behavior;
  • Your partner blames you for his or her abusive/violent behavior;
  • Your partner uses threats to coerce you to behave in certain ways;
  • Your partner is manipulative or coercive about getting you to engage in sexual behavior;
  • You are afraid of your partner's temper;
  • Your friends and family dislike your partner and urge you to leave him/her.

Getting Help for Yourself

  • Acknowledge that you are in an abusive/violent relationship;
  • Tell yourself that you deserve better than this;
  • Commit to working towards getting out of this relationship;
  • Get support from friends, family, and mentors;
  • Get professional help.

Getting Help for a Friend

  • Tell your friend directly that you believe that she/he is in an abusive/violent relationship;
  • Give your friend specific and concrete examples of abusive/violent behavior that you have observed or that he or she has told you about;
  • Tell your friend that she/he deserves better than to be in this relationship;
  • Point out the dangers of staying in this relationship;
  • Tell your friend that you will support her/him in the process of leaving this relationship;
  • Suggest getting professional help.


On Campus:

Resource Phone
Iona College Counseling Center (914) 633-2038
Health Services (914) 633-2548
Campus Safety (914) 633-2245

Off Campus:

Resource Phone
New Rochelle Police Department (914) 654-2300
Shelter: My Sister's Place (914) 683-1333
24 hour hotline (914) 969-5800
Victims Assistance Services (914) 345-3113
Hotline (914) 347-4558
New York City (212) 577-7777