Relationship abuse and violence is often hard to identify. It can happen to anyone, regardless of size, gender, strength, age, or sexual orientation. Many people don't consider themselves abused, so they don't recognize “warning signs” for abuse. The problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars. Relationship abuse and violence are common among college students.

Signs of Relationship Abuse

  • Being afraid of your partner.
  • Feeling like you have to “walk on eggshells” to keep your partner from blowing up
  • Being belittled, criticized, or put down
  • Always having to “check in” or being checked on
  • Having a partner who needs to know your whereabouts every hour of the day
  • Being afraid to or not able to do things you want to do, or spend time with people other than your partner
  • Being yelled at, called names, or shamed
  • Being threatened with physical violence
  • Having your finances rigidly controlled

If a friend is in an abusive relationship, he or she may exhibit some of the following signs. 

  • Checking in with his or her partner more often than seems necessary
  • Turning down invitations to hang out or go places
  • For physical abuse, skipping class or work, wearing clothing to hide bruises or scars, or having a lot of accidental injuries

How You Can Protect Our Pride

  • Talk about what a healthy relationship looks like.
  • Ask if everything is OK. Listen to what your friend has to say.
  • Let your friend know you are concerned.
  • Reassure your friend that you will keep the conversation confidential.
  • Provide resources that can help.
  • If your friend is being cyber-bullied or cyber-stalked, encourage him or her to save copies of all electronic communications. These are crimes and should be reported.
  • If a friend wants to report relationship violence, support him or her. Help your friend call the Department of Public Safety at (413) 748-5555. If he or she chooses not to report, support his or her choice to do so.