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Cycles of Abuse

Relationship violence (also known as intimate partner violence or IPV, dating violence, or domestic violence) is a pattern of physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abusive behaviors used by one individual to assert control or maintain power over a partner in the context of an intimate or family relationship. Relationship violence rarely occurs as an isolated incident.

Violent behaviors can range from verbal threats, put-downs, and name calling to slapping, hitting, pushing and sexual assault. Relationship violence is against the law and against university policy.

If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry, and/or trapped. You may even be blaming yourself for what is happening. All of these emotions are normal responses to the abuse you are experiencing. When abuse occurs, it is rarely a single incident.

No matter what others say, you are not responsible for your partner’s abusive actions.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND GET HELP

 


Cycle of Abuse in Relationships

Cycle of Violence graphic

Power and Control

Intimate partner violence is rooted in power and control. If you look at the graph below, you can see how most aspects of abuse are not physical, but are emotional, sexual, and even economic. Physical violence, which is in the rim of the wheel, is the force that is used to keep someone under control when the behaviors inside the spokes do not work.

Eight Types of Abuse graphic


Ten Warning Signs of Abuse

While there are many warning signs of abuse, here are ten of the most common behaviors exhibited by abusers to their partners:

  1. Checking their partner’s cell phone or e-mail without permission
  2. Constant put-downs
  3. Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  4. Explosive temper
  5. Financial control
  6. Isolating their partner from family or friends
  7. Mood swings
  8. Physically hurting their partner in any way
  9. Possessiveness
  10. Telling their partner what to do

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