Recognizing Abusive Relationships

No relationship is perfect, but there are characteristics of healthy relationships. Each partner in the relationship should be treated with respect and dignity. Students who are in a relationship or thinking about starting one should consider their rights and how they or others would describe their relationship.

  • I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • I have a right to follow my own values and standards.
  • I have the right to say no and not feel guilty.
  • I have the right to experience and express my feelings.
  • I have the right to feel safe and ask for what I want.
  • I have the right to take time for myself.
  • I have the right to change my mind and make mistakes.
  • I have the right to be me and feel good about myself and be happy.
  • I have the right to leave conversations with people who put me down.
  • I have the right to end the relationship.
  • I have the right to make decisions about my sexual and reproductive health.
  • I have the right to make friends and be myself around people.
  • Absence of mental or emotional violence
  • Absence of physical violence
  • Common interests
  • Equal power
  • Happiness
  • Healthy communication
  • Independence
  • Intimacy
  • Mutual respect
  • Similar goals
  • Support
  • Trust
Relationship Red Flags

Identifying a healthy and unhealthy relationship can be more complicated than it seems. Items that some people may consider healthy, others may consider unhealthy. Below are several warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.

  • Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
  • Constant belittling or put-downs
  • Explosive temper
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
  • Telling someone what to do
Students who have concerns about their own or someone's relationship can speak confidentially to a counselor in the Counseling and Testing Center or a staff member in Student Victim Assistance.

Cycle of Violence
Unhealthy behaviors in relationships can be red flags for future violence. People who experience violence in their relationships typically describe a cycle of violence which happens in three phases: the tension building phase, the explosion phase and the honeymoon phase.

During this phase, the aggressor starts to show warning signs of abusive behavior.
  • More arguments occur from the abuser to the victim.
  • The abuser begins name calling, swearing or yelling.
  • The abuser starts accusing the victim of cheating or flirting with other people.
  • The abuser starts to monitor the victim’s whereabouts, phone calls and friends.
During this phase, the abuser may become physically and verbally abusive.
  • The abuser physically hits the victim.
  • The abuser threatens the victim.
  • The abuser yells or swears.
  • The abuser becomes violent with pets or animals.
  • The abuser rapes or sexually assaults the victim.
During this phase, the abuser tries to justify or minimize their actions. They began to apologize to the victim. They often blame their actions on the victim. The abuser will go to great lengths to make up with the victim if this means purchasing gifts, spending time or changing their actions temporarily.
  • The abuser apologizes and says that it will not happen again.
  • The abuser purchases the victim gifts.
  • The abuser tells the victim that they love them.
  • The abuser begins to blame their actions on the victim, someone else or their life.
Students who have concerns about their own or someone's relationship can speak confidentially to a counselor in the Counseling and Testing Center or a staff member in Student Victim Assistance.