Relationship Violence

We are all functions of the system that we live in; a system that has taught us how to think about ourselves and others, how to interact with others, and how to understand what is expected of us. These thought processes and expectations are based on the specific set of social identities we were born into that predispose us to unequal roles that allow us to access (or deny access) to resources. 

The information here provides a basic overview of important considerations related to Relationship Violence. It is crucial that you continue expanding upon this knowledge and look further into the concepts presented that you are unfamiliar with and/or are curious about. 

In addition to the resources provided below, you can also review additional terminology interconnected with Relationship Violence here.

Understanding Relationship Violence

Relationship violence refers to an abusive relationship where the issue of power and control is an issue. One partner feels as though they need to be solely in control of the other person and uses multiple forms of abuse to ensure that they have and maintain control in the relationship. Relationship violence is encompassed within an umbrella term called Interpersonal Violence (IPV). IPV also includes sexual violence and stalking.

The following is how the Phoenix Center at Auraria | Anschutz (PCA) defines relationship violence. 

Relationship Violence: also called domestic violence, dating violence, or intimate partner violence—is a pattern of abuse that occurs in an intimate or romantic relationship. It can take many different forms, including:

  • physical (e.g. hitting or pushing)
  • emotional (e.g. extreme jealousy, isolation)
  • verbal (e.g. yelling, swearing, name calling)
  • financial (e.g. withholding money so one partner is dependent on the other)
  • psychological (e.g. threats of suicide and/or homicide)
  • sexual (e.g. forcing or coercing a partner to have sex when they don’t want to)

Please note, these are just a few examples of the many forms relationship violence can take.

We all live in a community where violence occurs and the community plays a part - directly or indirectly - in the fact that that it continues to occur. It is important to note that intersectionality plays a big role in how relationship violence can show up and how it is handled in our communities based on one's identity. This includes experiences, interventions, and coping mechanisms. The approach, intervention, and impact can be different depending on cultural contexts. Learn more about intersectionality within our Intersectionality learning guide.

Relationship violence can show up in different ways because abuse takes many forms. This is one example of what this can look like. 

Video: Colorado State University, Women and Gender Advocacy Center, Red Whistle Brigade; Music in this video: Song-Coming to Terms, Artist- Carolina Liar, Licensed to YouTube by-WMG; Kobalt Music Publishing, AMRA, LatinAutor, ASCAP, Muserk Rights Management, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA - UBEM, and 8 Music Rights Societies

What Can I Do?

If you are seeking support because you have or are currently experiencing relationship violence, and/or if your friend or loved one is experiencing relationship violence, there are options for you.

The PCA also has a helpful handout for
supporting survivors who are disclosing to you. 




In an effort to assist the university community and the general public, the OE has gathered the list of resources above, including links to websites. Please note, the OE does not accept solicitations to partner, sponsor, promote, and/or publish content from external organizations.   

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Credit: Sara D. Anderson, Karissa Stolen, and Paulina Venzor, 2020, Office of Equity at the University of Colorado Denver and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus