Student Consultation Team

Relationship Violence

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NOTE: You are a Mandatory Reporter and this situation MUST be reported to your supervisor or Title IX Coordinator immediately. You may not offer confidentiality to the student in this case.


Relationship violence is a term used to describe abuse within a relationship that is psychological, emotional, sexual, or physical.  Abuse behaviors may include:  physical abuse, verbal abuse, name calling, sexual violence, isolation, coercion, harassment, economic control, abusing trust, threats and intimidation, emotional withholding, destruction of property, or self-destructive behavior.  Most forms of relationship violence are recognized under the legal and university systems.


Victims may not report this crime for a number of reasons, including:  fear of retaliation or increased abuse, isolation from support systems, diminished sense of self-worth, economic inability, commitment to the relationship, self-blame, hope that the abuser will change, or threats made to the victim, children, or pets.  A student who is the victim of relationship violence may experience a number of academic challenges, such as:  inability to concentrate, emotional trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), physical harm, or an abuser preventing the student from attending class or completing course work.

Helpful Actions

  • Listen to and believe the student.
  • Understand the seriousness of all forms of abuse.
  • Respect the student's right to make their own decisions.
  • Help the student to identify resources such as the Phoenix Center, Student Health Services, and University Police.
  • Offer to accompany her/him to a place of support.
  • Let the student know the importance of creating a safety plan.
  •  Let the student know that if the abuser has threatened harm to another person, you may need to report this to University Police.
  • Let the student know that if the abuser has harmed any children or harmed her/himself in the presence of children you may be required to report to the police.

Unhelpful Actions

  • Minimizing abuse that is not physical- all forms of abuse can be traumatic.
  • Blaming the student for staying in the relationship- the dynamics of relationship violence are complex and the victim is NEVER at fault for the abuser's behaviors. 
  • Telling the student something is wrong with her/him if she/he has not left the relationship- this reinforces the abuser's messages of low self-worth.
  • Giving advice or pressuring for decisions- the student knows the dynamics of the abusive relationship best and she/he will know what feels safe and what actions may put her/his life in danger.
  • Criticizing the abuser instead of the abuser's behavior- this may cause defensiveness in the student.

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