This topic can be challenging for some, especially for people with relevant experiences. Remember to take care of yourself, and be aware of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical status. Be sure to take breaks, if needed.
If you need someone to talk to, please visit the Get Care page for resources specific to your circumstances.
Knowing What to Look For
58% of Alaskan women have experienced intimate partner violence or sexual violence.
Dating violence also can be called domestic violence. Dating and domestic violence are patterns of behaviors in relationships that includes a range of abusive actions that serve to set up forceful control of one person over the other. The difference between dating violence and domestic violence is that domestic violence is when couples live together, but the cycle of abuse and types of abuse are the same as dating violence.
Dating and domestic violence occurs in all relationships, young and old, married and unmarried, all economic backgrounds, heterosexual and same-sex. Violence does not discriminate. Even though violence against women is the most common, men are also abused – especially verbally and emotionally. Remember, no matter whom the abuse comes from, man or woman, parent or partner, older adult or teenager it is never okay and you never deserve it.
For more information about other types of abuse not from someone you are dating, married to, or being intimate with, please go to the section below about Different Types of Abuse.
!! Are you in immediate danger? Call 911. If you need help escaping from dating or domestic violence or just need someone to talk to about your relationship, check out our Get Help section. No one needs to live in fear.
Warning Signs of Dating Violence and Domestic Violence
Recognizing the signs of dating and domestic violence is the first step to breaking the cycle and getting help. No one needs to live in fear and experience the pain you have.
The biggest sign that you are in an abusive relationship is that your have fear of your partner or their reactions. Listen to yourself about your relationship and remember you are important and deserve to question all your relationships to make sure you have a healthy, loving, and fulfilling relationship.
You may be a victim of domestic violence if your partner:
Jealousy and possessiveness
- Isolates you from your friends and family
- Goes through your belongings
- Wants you to drop all your friends, especially of the same sex as your partner’s
- Expects you to spend all your time with them
- Calls or texts you constantly to know where you are and what you’re doing
- Shows up at your work or school to check up on you
- Checks mileage on your car
- Bosses you around
- Gives you orders
- Makes all the decisions
- Disregards your suggestions and wishes
- Discounts your feelings
- Makes you feel trapped or crazy
- Blames you for all their problems and makes you feel their behavior is your fault
- Withholds approval
- Puts you down and calls you names
Hypersensitivity and explosive behavior
- Bursts out in anger unpredictably
- Makes you feel like you’re walking on eggshells
- Makes your friends and family concerned for you and your safety
Threatening and using violence
- Grabs, pushes, shoves, slaps, shakes, kicks, punches and chokes you
- Pressures you for sex
- Breaks or destroys objects, especially those you value
If you answer yes to any of these, or have experienced anything listed on our Types of Abuse section below, you may want to talk to someone about your relationship. Our Get Help page has many free resources available where you can talked to someone about your relationship or help you leave the relationship.
Cycle of Dating Violence & Domestic Violence
Unhealthy and abusive relationships follow a cycle: Set Up, Abuse, Guilt & Fear of Getting Caught, Justifying, Normal Behavior/Honeymoon, Fantasy & Planning.
Your abuser puts you in and controls a situation where you have no choice but to react in a way that will, in your abuser’s mind, justify the abuse. This is often where you could feel that no matter what you did there was no way to make them happy.
When the time is right and the situation is being controlled by your abuser, they will continue the violence. Although this may seem like a time your abuser is out of control, the attack is actually a way for the abuser to show power and control over you and everyone else around you. The abuse will become worse over time. There are different types of abuse: physical, mental, emotional, stalking, financial, verbal or nonverbal, spiritual, and cultural abuse.
Guilt & Fear of Getting Caught
After abusing you, your partner might apologize and feel guilty. Instead of being truly sincere and regretting that they abused you, the apologies and the guilt comes from a fear of getting caught. The abuser is more worried about the consequences of getting caught abusing you than the hurt they have done to you. Your abuser may also say they will never do it again and use gifts, promises, and bribes as a way to take away their guilt. This is really about keeping you silent and to prevent you from speaking out about the abuse. The real purpose is controlling you again.
Justifying is when your abuser makes excuses for their abuse of you. This may look like them telling you that you made them hurt you or it was your fault for the abuse. It may also look like excuses your abuser makes for the abuse, such as “I was drunk” or “I was out of control” or “I let my anger get to me” these are all excuses that let the abuser avoid taking responsibility for the abuse.
Between the phases of abuse there is the downtime, the normal behavior or honeymoon. Honeymoon refers to when your abuser is trying to make up for the abuse. They also may pretend like nothing happen. What also happens is a buildup. Your abuser may threaten you, such as “no one will believe you” or “You’ll never see your kids again.” During this phase your abuser is trying to get control of you again. The peacefulness of this time may give you hope that your abuser has really changed this time. This is not true, remember abuse gets worse over time and eventually this period can disappear altogether.
Fantasy & Planning
Your abuser spends a lot of time fantasizing and planning their abuse of you. Part of the fantasizing is thinking about all the things you’ve done right, according to them, they may even use excuses from the Justifying stage to start planning. This is all, in their mind, reasons why you deserve the abuse. Your abuser will start to set you up to fail and put their plan into action, creating a situation where they can hurt you again.
Your abuser may give you apologies and loving gestures when the abuse is not happening and can make it hard to leave. Often abusers will make you believe that you are the only one that can help them, you’re responsible to help them, that things will change, and that they truly love you. If fact, even if you are not experiencing an abusive period, this cycle of control and fear is abusive. When you are in an abusive relationship, it is abusive all the time.
Staying with your abuser is dangerous, the longer you stay with your abuser higher your chance is of permanent or fatal damage.
On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
(Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)
The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example
A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” What he does not say is, “Because I might get caught.” He then justifies his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her “If you weren’t such a worthless whore I wouldn’t have to hit you.” He then acts sorry, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because “you’re having an affair with the store clerk.” He has just set her up.
Source: Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service
Different Types of Abuse
Remember, just because your abuser isn’t hitting you, that’s doesn’t mean you are not being abused. There are many different types of abuse and all of them leave lasting scars on the soul.
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial or economic abuse
- Verbal or nonverbal abuse
- Spiritual or religious abuse
- Cultural abuse
Remember! No one ever deserves or asks to be abused. You are entitled to feel safe, respected, and loved in all your relationships. If you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please visit our Get Help page.