Are You in an Abusive Relationship?
> NYIT Title IX Policy
Our Gender-Based Misconduct Policy provides you with detailed information about your rights as a victim of violence, your options for reporting, and resources available to you.
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What are Dating and Domestic Violence?
Dating and domestic violence are patterns of abusive behavior in any intimate relationship that are used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another partner. It can be physical, sexual, or psychological harm inflicted by a current or former intimate partner or spouse. Dating and domestic violence happens everywhere to women and men of all ages, income levels, and backgrounds.
Research has found that:
- Most abusers are male, and most victims of partner violence are female. However, partner violence also occurs in same-sex relationships, and women can be abusers, too.
- One in every 4 women and one in every 10 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
- Females who are 20–24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence, and intimate partner violence is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15–44 in the United States.
The key characteristic of dating and domestic violence is the "cycle of violence," which consists of:
- Mutual dependency between the abuser and the abused.
- Unpleasant event (victim-to-be does something viewed as unacceptable to the abuser-to-be).
- Abuser tries to stop the behavior by threats; the victim may argue back.
- "Last straw" decision (abuser decides situation is intolerable).
- Primitive rage assault (all inhibitions against hurting a loved one disappear).
- Reinforcement for battering (the victim, in order to survive, submits).
- Repentance (apologies, promises, and "happy times"). This phase typically disappears from the cycle after several years of violence.
As the violence progresses over time, the cycle shortens and progresses more rapidly.
Common Warning Signs Of Abuse
While these can be useful, each situation is different and there is no foolproof way to predict or recognize abuse. Trust your instincts.
- Checking cell phones, emails, or social networks without permission
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Intense relationship
- Constant belittling or put-downs
- Explosive temper
- Isolation from family and friends
- Making false accusations
- Erratic mood swings
- Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
- Belief in personal superiority
- Telling someone what to do
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
What Should I Do To Stay Safe?
- If you are in immediate danger, contact 911
- Consider contacting the police, campus security, and/or NYIT
- Consider leaving the relationship (see the sections below)
- Consider getting a court order that tells the abuser to stay away from you
- Take threats seriously and act in a manner to protect your safety
- Contact a crisis hotline, domestic violence or rape crisis program and/or NYIT's Counseling and Wellness Center for professional support
- Develop a safety plan, which includes things like changing your routine and avoid traveling alone and having a safe word for family or friends.
- Tell important people in your life about the abuse including the police, your employer, family, friends, and neighbors.
- Carry a cellphone at all times so you can call for help.
How Am I Going To Feel?
- Emotional shock and disbelief that this is happening
- Fear of what the abuser will do
- Vulnerable and feeling unsafe
- Fearful of trusting people to help you
- Depressed, overwhelmed, angry
- Confused, frustrated, isolated
Remember: No one deserves to be abused. Perpetrators are responsible for their own actions. Survivors are never to blame.
How Do I Decide Whether To Leave An Abusive Relationship?
Only you can know what is best for you at any given moment. Statistically speaking, very few abusers stop being abusive. Leaving can be a powerful way to regain control of your life and especially your safety. But leaving can be difficult and is often complicated by social, economic, and emotional factors.
Know that whatever decision(s) you make about leaving are not binding—circumstances may prevent you from leaving in one moment, but that does not mean that opportunities to leave will not arise in the future (and vice versa). Know that leaving can be an option, even if it may not seem that way at times.
Remember that you are not responsible for your partner—not for their choices, mistakes, or abuse. You (and perhaps your abuser) may harbor hope that they can recover from addictions, depression, etc., but your partner is ultimately responsible for making that happen, not you.
How Do I Leave an Abusive Relationship?
Giving your abuser notice about your intention to leave will give him/her the chance to manipulate you into staying. If you cohabit with your abuser, try to plan ahead of time exactly how you will leave, and do so when your abuser is not at home. Ending the relationship in a public place may also be a good idea.
It is important to know that abusers often react very intensely to being left. Ending the relationship can actually increase your likelihood of harm, and therefore it is advised to seek professional guidance and support in the decision and logistics, especially if the relationship has escalated to physical harm. It is also important to have a support system of family and friends who can be there for you during the difficult transition.
Leaving a relationship may lead to stalking or harassment by the abuser. Other abusers may beg for forgiveness and promise to change. Or some may threaten self-harm.
Taking Care of Yourself
Being the victim of violence in an intimate relationship can be very traumatic. You have chosen to love and trust your partner and s/he has betrayed you with violence. At the same time, there are often positive aspects of the relationship that may lead you to still cling to that relationship, believing your abuser loves you and will eventually change. These two sides of a violent relationship may make it very difficult to know if you really love your partner or not, or if you want to stay in the relationship or not. In fact, most survivors of relationship violence report that they do not want the relationship to end, they just want the abuse to stop.
You may experience mixed feelings and feel a sense of responsibility. You may have told yourself that if only you could make things better, the violence would stop. It is very hard to accept that you have no control over your partner's behavior, but it is ultimately more healing to recognize that no matter how confused about the situation you are, the fact remains the violence is not your fault.
Since abusive relationships are about power and control, survivors often have difficulty taking control of their lives back, particularly if the abuser has managed to isolate them socially or economically. There are, however, a number of services and organizations designed to help victims survive the abuse and move on with their lives.
If you are currently, or have been, abused by your partner, or think you might be, it is important that you talk to someone.
As mentioned above, it is common to experience depression, feelings of helplessness and rage, hopelessness, self-blame, and fear. Support from friends, family members, and often counselors or therapists can help you in your recovery. Shelters are also available to help you get back on your feet, and are especially important if you were economically dependent on your partner. Unfortunately, most shelters do not provide residential services for male victims of domestic violence, but most will provide assistance in finding a safe place and finding other resources.
Survivors of relationship violence can and do recover and are able to live happy, fulfilling lives, in which they are safe from violence and abuse. Recovery is a process, however, and the length of time varies for different people. As with immediate recovery, ongoing counseling or therapy can be extremely helpful. Sexual violence is often a part of domestic or dating violence; if that was the case for you, counseling may be extremely helpful in recovering from that trauma as well. You may experience difficulty in developing intimate relationships again, and long-term recovery can focus on that issue as well.