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Intimate Partner Violence Survivors

Intimate Partner Violence, or domestic violence, takes many forms including sexual abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, financial abuse, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse, and physical abuse. There is help.

You are not alone. In the United States, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will suffer an abusive relationship at one point in their lives, and 24 people experience Intimate Partner Violence every minute.

This can end.

Intimate Partner Violence, also known as domestic violence, happens across all boundaries and differences. It happens to people from different socioeconomic groups, ethnicities, and religious affiliations and affects same-sex couples and opposite sex couples at equal rates. It happens in marriages, between those that are dating, and in all types of intimate relationships.

There is help.

It is not just physical abuse. Intimate Partner Violence takes many forms including: sexual, emotional/verbal, financial, psychological, spiritual and physical abuse. For some, the lasting scars from the less obvious forms of abuse are harder to recover from.

There is hope.

It is not your fault. The abuser may tell you over and over again that you deserved it, asked for it, or caused the abuse. THAT IS NOT TRUE.

No one asks for or deserves abuse.

What is intimate partner violence (IPV)?

Many people mistakenly believe that IPV is only physical abuse and visible in the form of injuries. In fact, abuse can take many different forms. Intimate Partner Violence is a pattern of behavior that is designed to exert power and control over an intimate (romantic) partner. The control is usually established using a number of different methods including: physical, verbal, financial, emotional, sexual, spiritual abuse or stalking behavior. This abuse usually takes place within what is commonly called the Cycle of Violence.


Below are the Top 10 Warning Signs that your partner may be abusive. Talk to someone you trust or call our crisis line if you need someone to talk to.

  1. Unreasonable jealousy. Your partner wants to know who you are with and when, where, and what you are doing all of the time.
  2. Controlling behavior. Your partner says they just want to keep you safe, but tell you where to go and what to do more and more often.
  3. Pressure to get serious very quickly. Love at first sight may be a romantic idea but be careful of anyone who wants to get very serious very quickly.
  4. Unrealistic expectations. Your partner expects you to fulfill all of their needs. You are expected to be all things at all times for this person. This is not possible and sets you up as a scapegoat.
  5. Isolation from friends, family and other support systems. “Why do you need to be with anyone else if you love me?” If this question sounds familiar, beware. Friends, family and support systems are important to maintain. Maintaining outside interests is healthy when in a relationship.
  6. Blames others for all of their problems and feelings. Accuses you of “pushing” their buttons or doing things to deliberately make them upset or angry; they blame you for their reactions. Gets unreasonably angry about small or imagined slights.
  7. “Playful” use of force during sex without your consent. Sexual play should be a decision made by both parties in a committed and caring relationship. Being in an intimate relationship does NOT mean giving up control over your own body. You still have the right to say no to things that you do not want to do.
  8. Rigid gender roles. Are you only allowed to do certain things because of your gender? Do they get upset with you when you are not feminine or masculine enough in their eyes? Be careful—strict roles often mean strict rules and can indicate a controlling personality.
  9. Past abusive behavior. One of the most accurate predictors of abusive behavior is past abuse. If they have been abusive in past relationships, chances are they can or will be again.
  10. Threats of violence. Threatening to harm you, loved ones, friends, pets, even strangers is a strong indicator that this person may become abusive. This includes threats to harm themselves.


Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is traumatic and often starts small, leading to more serious injuries as time goes on. You may have physical pain, injuries, and strong emotional reactions. These can include intense anxiety, depression and fearfulness, difficulty concentrating, nightmares about the traumatic events and intense memories or “reliving” of the traumatic experiences.

You may also find yourself feeling like it is your fault; you may be ashamed to tell others about what is happening to you; you may find yourself confused by the cycle and feel stuck in it. You may deny how serious the abuse is or feel as though there is nowhere to turn. Guilt, shame, and denial of the abuse are very common reactions.

The Cycle of Violence can be broken and talking about the trauma can often help.

RISE offers clinical and crisis therapy and a 24-hour toll-free hotline 855-886-RISE (7473) for survivors who are interested in getting help.


Sometimes Safety Planning can seem like an overwhelming task. Below are some pointers and tips to consider when making a plan to keep you safe. Remember, you are the expert in your life so if any of the recommendations don’t seem safe in your relationship—trust your instincts. Think of ways you have kept yourself safe in the past and consider new ways that feel right to you.


  • Remember you have the right to live without fear and violence.
  • Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with no exits or that include dangerous items—stay out of bathrooms, the kitchen and/or the garage.
  • Make a list of safe people to contact.
  • Try to keep important documents, keys and cash with you.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and memorize important numbers.
  • Establish a "code word or sign" so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help.
  • Think about what you will say to your partner if they become violent.
  • Have a set of clothes for yourself and for your children stored at a friend's house or at work in the event you need to leave your home quickly.
  • Keep sets of important documents (birth certificates, banking information, ATM card, school records, deeds, other legal documents) away from your house in a safe place that only you can access.
  • Keep a journal of the abuse ONLY if you feel confident that you can keep it hidden from the abuser.


  • Change your phone number and/or screen all of your calls.
  • Trust your instincts—if something doesn’t feel safe don’t do it.
  • Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving interaction with the abuser.
  • Change locks at your home and to your vehicle.
  • Avoid staying alone.
  • Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
  • If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place with a family member or friend nearby or present.
  • Vary your routine.
  • Notify school and those you work with.
  • Consider applying for a Temporary Restraining Order.
  • Create a financial escape plan.


  • Learn the best route to get to a safe location.
  • Vary your routine to and from school, in outside activities and with friends.
  • Try to keep important documents, keys and cash with you.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and memorize important numbers.
  • Pick a safe and secret location where a friend or family member can pick you up.
  • If you don’t feel safe, don’t break up in person. If you decide to break up in person, do it in a public place and ask someone you trust to be nearby in case you need them.
  • Consider applying for a Temporary Restraining Order. In California, you can apply for a Temporary Restraining Order at age 13.
  • Think independently and trust your instincts.
  • Don't let anyone talk you into doing something that's not right for you.
  • Get support from someone you trust like a parent, teacher or counselor.
  • Call the National Teen Dating Violence Hotline at (866) 331-9474 or visit the Love is Respect website.


  • If possible, have a phone nearby at all times, preferably one to which the stalker has never had access.
  • Treat all threats seriously and report them to law enforcement.
  • Vary your routine. Take different routes to work or school, go to different stores, etc.
  • Try to travel with others and stay in groups when out.
  • Get an unlisted phone number. If possible, keep your old number connected to a voicemail or answering machine and save all messages left by the stalker/abuser. Please note, smart phones can be used as a means of stalking by an abuser. To learn more, click here.
  • Do not interact with the person stalking or harassing you.
  • Consider obtaining a protective order against the stalker.
  • Keep a log of all incidents of stalking including: date/time of behavior, what the behavior was, and the names of any witnesses. Retain copies of any texts, messages or emails received from the stalker. Also, when possible, take pictures of the stalking behavior as part of your records. These can be incredibly important to prosecution.
  • If you are being followed or are fearful for your immediate safety, consider going to a police station, fire station, emergency room—public areas may deter the stalking behavior.
  • Go to the Stalking Resource Center for more help.
RISE is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides crisis intervention and treatment services to survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence and their loved ones. All services are provided confidentially, at low or no cost, to anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ability or citizenship status. All crisis services are available in Spanish and English.