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NOTE: This report form is operated by the UO Police Department. Anonymity can only be guaranteed if no identifying information is provided. If persons involved in a sexual assault are identified, a report made to appropriate authorities may be required.
Relationship abuse occurs in epidemic proportions. Here are some recent statistics:
- Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.
- Approximately 70% of college students say they have been sexually coerced.
- 57% of students who report having been in an abusive dating relationship indicate it occurred in college.
- One in three women experience at least one physical assault by a partner during adulthood.
- Young women ages 19-29 reported more violence by intimates than any other age group.
- 58% of college students said they would not know how to help if they knew someone was a victim.
Although some relationships are mutually abusive, more frequently there is an imbalance of power in abusive relationships. While abuse may take the form of physical violence, abuse can also occur in an emotional and verbal manner. This may also include abusive tactics utilizing texting, Facebook or other social media.
Signs of Abuse
- Persistent put downs or statements that diminish one's worth or ability.
- Controlling behavior (Yelling, shouting, and intimidation).
- Attempting to convince that no one will believe the abused person.
- Intense jealousy of friends, family, or other outside social contact.
- Threatening to harm children, pets or other loved ones.
- Interrogating one's partner about time spent apart from the relationship.
- Feeling threatened and intensifying the abuse when one's partner begins to move toward autonomy or independence, e.g., getting a better job, going back to school, making new friends, seeking counseling.
- Demanding or coercing sex when one's partner is not interested.
- Borrowing money without repaying it or taking things without asking and not returning them.
- Physical abuse or the threat of physical harm.
Individuals who abuse their partners sometimes abuse substances as well or display other addictive behavior. Addiction problems are never the CAUSE of abuse.
While appearing to be powerful, abusive individuals are often very dependent upon their partners for their sense of self-esteem. Sometimes they expect their partners to take care of day to day tasks which most adults handle for themselves. Abusive partners often feel powerless in the larger world; the relationship may be the only place where they feel a sense of power. Attacking their partner's abilities or worth is one way that abusive individuals maintain a sense of power, esteem, and control. At a deep emotional level, abusers often feel that they are not good enough and fear abandonment. By keeping their partners in a diminished, fearful, or dependent state, they attempt to ensure that their partners will not leave them.
Steps for Abusers
If you have abused your partner physically or emotionally, the following steps may help you begin to change this pattern:
- When you start to feel angry, take a deep breath, focus on your body, and walk away from your partner. You can return once you've cooled down.
- Recognize that anger is usually a secondary emotion masking more vulnerable feelings. Try to recognize the fear and hurt that lie beneath the anger.
- Reflect upon the fact that your angry outbursts, while exerting a sense of control in the short term, may ultimately drive your partner away.
- Redirect your anger in a way that does not hurt other people, such as engaging in intense physical activity.
- Start keeping a journal. When you become angry, sit down with your journal and write down your thoughts and feelings. This will help specify what you can work on.
- Allow yourself to question your assumptions and expectations of your partner. For instance, when you feel hurt, this may reflect your own vulnerabilities, rather than any attempt by your partner to hurt you.
- Recognize the need for help and seek it out. Talk to friends and others who can support your effort to change. Change is possible.
- Work with a counselor to learn how to express your feelings without hurting or belittling your partner.
- Join an anger management workshop or group.
Positive Steps for Coping with an Abusive Relationship
- Maintain outside relationships and avoid isolation. You need your support system.
- Seek "reality checks" by talking to others if you suspect that your partner has been abusive.
- Learn about resources available to people in abusive relationships.
- Identify a "safe place" you can go to in an emergency if your partner becomes threatening or violent.
- Read self-help books about healthy and unhealthy relationships.
- Seek professional counseling or talk to someone you trust to help you sort through the issues that may be keeping you in an abusive relationship.
- Begin to develop a support system, so that if you choose to leave the relationship, you will not be alone.
- Rather than dwelling on blaming yourself for what you've done in the past, focus on how you want to live from this day forward and then take steps to make this happen.
- Resist thoughts of self-blame, shame or ideas that prevent you from planning for your future and connecting with others.
- Partners of abusive people often engage in "enabling" behavior. In essence, enabling behavior consists of taking care of the abusive partner, making excuses for him or her, and otherwise going along with the pattern of abuse. Enabling behavior may include the following:
- Denying that a problem exists or convincing oneself that in spite of all evidence to the contrary, things will get better.
- Maintaining a "front" to the outside world that everything is fine. Cleaning up after the abusive partner's messes or outbursts, e.g., intervening for them at work, apologizing for starting the fight, fixing broken doors and windows, putting on make-up to cover the bruises.
- Smoothing over or tiptoeing around conflict areas in order to stay out of harm's way and to maintain a sense of peace.
- Taking over everyday tasks that most adults do for themselves.
Enabling behavior often originates from fear in the relationship and attempts to stay safe; however, it can quickly become a negative pattern blurring the reality that help is possible. Enabling is often a sign of poor self-esteem that an abuser will often target. By taking care of one's partner physically or emotionally, one can feel needed or even loved during the enabling process. At a deeper level, a person who enables an abusive partner may feel that no one could love them for who they are, but only for what they can provide to others. This is why abusers often try to convince their partners that "no one else would want them." Enabling behavior not only traps one in an unhealthy, unsupportive relationship, but keeps one's abusive partner in a dependent position as well. Understanding healthy relationship patterns is critical to change.
For a variety of additional website resources regarding abuse please click the following link: website resources regarding abuse
Local Resources for People in Abusive Relationships
Counseling and support groups for women in abusive relationships, emergency shelter for battered women and their children, 24 hour crisis line.
Sexual Assault Support Services
541-343-7277, CRISIS: 1-800-788-4727.
Offers domestic violence support groups, self defense classes, etc., 591 W. 19th Ave.
Text: “loveis” to 22522 or call: 1-866-331-9474.
This website has information for safety planning on college campuses and a 24 hour hotline with texting options available.
UO Crisis Line
Para-professional counseling evenings and weekends.
University Counseling Center
drop-in clinic, individual, couples, and group therapy, 2nd floor Student Health Center Building.
American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence
Information, advocacy, and policy development.
University of Oregon Police Department
9-1-1 (emergency) 541-346-2919 (non-emergency)
UOPO East Station, 2141 E. 15th Ave.
Eugene Police Department
911 (emergency) or 541-682-5111 (non-emergency)
300 Country Club Road, Eugene, Oregon
Springfield Police Department
911 (emergency) or 541-726-3714 (general)
344 A St. Springfield, Oregon
Written by: Mark Evans, Ph.D. and edited by Jennifer Morlok, LMFT, University of Oregon Counseling Center