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Relationship Violence

If there is immediate danger, call 911.

Relationship violence is a pattern of behavior in an intimate relationship that is used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. Whether you refer to an experience as dating violence, domestic violence, intimate partner violence or relationship violence, all terms mean that one partner has gained more power over time through the use of controlling tactics.

Often survivors of relationship violence feel alone. Unfortunately, relationship violence is a common experience. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted in 2010 by the CDC found that more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. are survivors of relationship violence in their lifetime. Voices Against Violence (VAV) offers services to students who:

  • are concerned about safety in their relationship
  • are survivors of relationship or dating violence

VAV counselors work with students to explore the impact of violence on their lives, create safety plans and explore other options.

Breaking Down Relationship Violence

Relationship violence looks and feels different for every survivor. Often we see relationship violence portrayed in the media as physical or sexual violence. Often such violence is the "tip of the iceberg" - meaning that for many people experiencing violence, there are emotional, verbal, psychological and digital/online forms of abuse also occurring in their relationship. For more information about what relationship violence can look and feel like, click on the links in the image below.
Check out the group available on Relationship Violence:

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Why do people stay?

The following are typical reasons that survivors give for staying in an abusive relationship:

The following are typical reasons that survivors give for staying in an abusive relationship:

  • I'm scared of what will happen if I try to leave
  • I'm worried about what my friends or family will think
  • I don't have anyone to turn to
  • I love my partner, I want the abuse to end, not the relationship
  • I don't believe I'll find anyone else to date
  • It's my fault this is happening

We believe that if there's a history of violence in a relationship, abuse is more likely to continue in the future and may escalate. VAV counselors work with individuals to understand what is happening in their relationship. VAV does not pressure anyone to end their relationship - we trust that you are the expert in your life. We are here to listen and discuss your options. All CMHC appointments are confidential and are not part of your academic record. To learn more about the CMHC confidentiality policy click here.

Voices Against Violence
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VAV Home

Dating and Relationship Violence

Sexual Violence



Risk Reduction Self-Protection

Dating Bill of Rights


VAV Prevention, Training and Outreach

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Theatre for Dialogue

Get Involved

Contact VAV

Become a Peer Educator

Get Sexy, Get Consent

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  Digital Abuse
  Verbal Abuse
  Emotional Abuse
  Psychological Abuse

What is safety planning?

If you feel afraid of your partner, you can work with a VAV counselor to learn about your rights, options and how to create a safety plan. Safety planning begins with looking at your life--including your schedule and home security-- to identify areas where you may feel vulnerable. Once areas of concern are identified, you can establish specific ways to increase your safety. For example, you might:

  • Discuss safe ways to end the relationship
  • Vary your route to and from school or work
  • Create a code word with trusted friends and family members
  • Notify others about your whereabouts
  • Change your passwords
  • Create new e-mail accounts or social media profiles
  • Alert building security where you live

A safety plan is going to look different for every individual. No two relationship violence situations are alike, and a response to one situation may not work in another case. It is important to know various options that can increase safety, whether you use them yourself or share them with a friend, family member, or co-worker. The most important part of a safety plan is that it is tailored to your own emotional and physical needs. Working with a VAV Counselor can help you access resources on and off campus and think through your best options. Relationship violence is never the fault of the person being abused.

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Learn More:

Identifying Relationship Violence

Planning for Safety

If you or someone you know would like more information on Voices Against Violence (VAV) services, including individual counseling, group counseling and advocacy please call the Counseling and Mental Health Center at (512)471-3515. When you call, ask for a VAV appointment. If this is an emergency, please call 911. If you need to speak with someone immediately, you can walk in to the Counseling and Mental Health Center M-F, 8am-4pm. UT students can reach a telephone counselor 24/7/365 at (512) 471-CALL (2255)

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You have a right to be safe at The University of Texas at Austin.

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