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voices against violence

Dating and Relationship Violence

Relationship Violence Defined

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.

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.

Why do people stay?

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

  • Feeling scared of what will happen if they try to leave.
  • Feeling worried about what friends or family will think.
  • Thinking that they don't have anyone to turn to.
  • Loving a partner; wanting the abuse to end, not the relationship.
  • A belief that they won't find anyone else to date.
  • Thinking that it is their fault.

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. However, our staff believe that if there is a history of violence in a relationship, abuse is likely to continue in the future and may escalate. 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.

Learn More

Cycles and Tactics in Violent Relationships
Red Flags and Warning Signs
Safety Planning
Common Reactions
Taking Care of Yourself
Reporting Options
Concerns Related to Identity



UT Counseling and Mental Health Center

UT Counseling and Mental Health Center Voices Against Violece
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The University of Texas at Austin - What Starts Here Changes The World