What is Relationship Abuse

Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern of control.

Please see our Definitions page and our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. Also see Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships.

If your partner is abusing you, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You may also blame yourself for what is happening. But no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Relationship abuse is always a decision that a perpetrator (those who choose to do harm) makes to harm their partner. Relationship abuse is not caused by alcohol or drugs, stress, anger management, or provocation. It is the perpetrator’s choice to be abusive.

Please see Get Help for assistance.

Holding abusers accountable sends a message to others that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated in our community. Unfortunately, there are still many barriers to justice in the criminal justice system, and when professionals do not understand the dynamics of domestic violence, it can make it difficult to adequately identify and prosecute abusers. In addition, many womxn cannot rely on the criminal justice system due to institutional barriers, including discrimination or homophobia. However, it is also important to recognize that many survivors do choose to involve law enforcement and depend on the criminal justice system; we cannot abandon these womxn. Due to all of these factors, it is important for us to hold abusers accountable on an individual level as well. Do not blame the survivor. Teach your children that violence is never the answer to a problem, and that controlling another person is wrong.