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Dating Violence and Stalking

The Family Violence Prevention Fund defines intimate partner violence as a continuum of behaviors ranging from verbal and emotional abuse, economic exploitation, threats, sexual and physical assaults and homicide. These behaviors happen repeatedly and without proper intervention may result in death.

Stalking may be perpetrated by a party that is either known or unknown to the victim. The Student Conduct Code defines stalking as repeated, unwanted contact with any person, including contact by electronic means or by proxy, or the credible threat of repeated contact with the intent to place a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family or close acquaintances.

 On and Off-Campus Resources

  • Consider contacting one of AU's victim advocates at the Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal and Sexual Violence (OASIS).They can work with you to create a safety-plan, discuss risk reduction, or help you obtain a "No Contact Order."
  • Consider downloading the ASPIRE app, an unassuming app for your smart phone that can help you pre-plan for an emergency.
  • Program Public Safety's number into your phone: (202) 885-3636
  • NVRDC provides free legal services for survivors in the District of Columbia: (202) 742-1727
  • Break the Cycle also provides legal services and other advocacy programs for survivors ages 12-24: (1-888-988-8336)
  • My Sister’s Place provides a 24-hour hotline and support services: (202) 529-5991.
  • If you fear for your safety, call 911.

Understanding the Difference between Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

While no two relationships are the same, there are patterns of behavior that characterize both health and unhealthy relationships. The table below provides an overview of features commonly found in healthy relationships, contrasting them with features common to unhealthy relationships

Healthy Relationships

Unhealthy Relationships

Equality: Partners share decision making roles Control: One partner makes decisions for the other
Honesty: Partners are open and communicate needs and desires Dishonesty: One partner lies to the other
Support: Partners will encourage each other Disrespect: One partner may insult, demean, or otherwise put the other down
Comfort: Partners are free to be themselves Intimidation: One partner may attempt to coerce the other into doing things they do not feel comfortable with
Understanding of boundaries: Respect is given to each partners privacy Lack of privacy: Examining a partners phone, email, or social media discussions without permission or consent
Independence within the relationship Dependence on the other individual
Physical Safety: Partners feel safe when together and in the space that they may share Physical Abuse: One partner may use force to exert their will on another (i.e.: slapping, pushing, hitting)
Sexual Respect: Partners never force any physical activity without consent. There is active and enthusiastic consent before any sexual activity Sexual Abuse: Force or coercion are used by one partner against the other. Even in relationships, consent is required before any sexual activity

Understanding Abuse as a Continuum of Behaviors

According to the National Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence:

"Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviors by the batterer, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only once or occasionally, they instill threat of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to take control of the victim's life and circumstances.

The Power & Control diagram below is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors, which are used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over a partner. Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship."

Power Control Wheel