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Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate Partner Violence can happen to anyone regardless of appearance, age, race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, relationship/marital status, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, etc.

Intimate partner violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.

It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and/or emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of intimate partner violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of intimate partner violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.

Abuse is a systemic pattern of behaviors in a relationship that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another person.
  • Physical Abuse is any forceful or violent physical behavior that shows power and control over a person's physical body.
  • Emotional Abuse includes hurting another person's feelings by making cruel, unfair comments or name-calling.
  • Psychological Abuse can include threats of harm to self or others, minimizing or denying the occurence of an abuse incident, or affects on one's beliefs, perceptions or understanding of the world around them.
  • Sexual Abuse is any non-consenting sexual act or behavior. Tactics may include physical contact, verbal exchanges, improper usage of technology and pornography.
  • Verbal Abuse is the use of language for power and control, including insults, put-downs, threats, etc.
  • Financial Abuse is preventing a person from having any control over finances, not allowing access to money, work or education.
  • Technological Abuse is using the internet, computer, cell phones, email, chat rooms, etc. for power and control over another person.
  • Spiritual/Cultural Abuse includes using someones spirituality, belief systems, religion, ethnicity, race, background, practices, morals or values against them to gain power and control.
*Adapted from Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services
Anyone can be an abuser. They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels and all backgrounds. It is important to note that the majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partners. One study found that 90% of abusers do not have criminal records and abusers are generally law-abiding outside the home.
Red flags and warning signs of an abuser may include, but are not limited to:
*Adapted from National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don't insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.
Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior. They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you're alone.
Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abuseres are not out of control. In fact, they're able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it's to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls).
Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won't show. Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks won't show.

The Cycle of Violence

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence (although, not every relationship will follow this pattern in exactly the way it is shown here):

Cycle of Violence2Abuse - Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you "who is boss".

Guilt - After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what they've done. They're more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for their abusive behavior.

Excuses - Your abuser rationalizes what they have done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior - anything to avoid taking responsibility.

"Normal" behavior - The abuser does everything they can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. They may act as if nothing has happened, or they may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

Fantasy and planning - Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. They spend a lot of time thinking about what you've done wrong and how they'll make you pay. Then they make a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

Set-up - Your abuser set you up and puts their plan in motion, creating a situation where they can justify abusing you.

Your abuser's apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. They may make you believe that you are the only person who can help them, that things will be different this time and that they truly love you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.

*Adapted from helpguide.org

24-Hr Sexual Assault Hotline
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Stephanie Kitzerow

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Email: kitzeros@uwosh.edu
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