Relationship AbuseLearn more about relationship abuse bystander intervention:

Abuse is about control.

View the Power and Control Wheels:


Scenario: Relationship Abuse

You and a friend live on the same wing in the dorms. You walk by her room and hear her crying. In the past, she has shared with you that her boyfriend yells at her, humiliates her, and always wants to know where she is and who she’s with. She also says he won’t let her do things she wants to.
It appears she has some fresh bruises around her eye and on her arms. What do you do?

Additional Relationship Abuse Scenarios

Click to view additional scenarios

Relationship Abuse Scenario
A friend pushes and then slaps his girlfriend at a party. Other people see it and are upset but don’t do anything.  He’s not a very close friend, but someone you’ve taken several courses with and have had cordial discussions. What do you do?

Relationship Abuse Scenario
You live in the dorms and overhear your RA having a conversation with his girlfriend, who you also know. The conversation is getting pretty heated and you hear him call her “slut”. The RA demands that she give him her cell phone so he can check her text messages. The girlfriend tries to leave but the RA says, “You’re not going anywhere until we get to the bottom of this,” and blocks her from leaving. What do you do?
(Adapted from The University at Albany Counseling Center)


  1. What issues are or could be significant in relationship abuse/violence situations?
  2. Is this an issue within the athletic community?
  3. How could you support the alleged victim and the alleged attacker?
  4. Why do some men try to control their girlfriends through force or intimidation?
  5. How do cultures differ with regard to gender roles?
  6. Why is it so hard for some women, or men, who are abused to end the relationship?

Considerations and Warning Signs

Relationship abuse/violence is often very hard to identify. It can often follow learned behavior patterns that come from family, culture and media. “That’s just how our (family or culture) acts,” is a common excuse for perpetrators and victims in relationship violence. Also, many people never consider themselves abusive or abused, so they don’t recognize “warning signs” for abuse as having anything to do with their relationship. Talking about and identifying what a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP looks like, helps in seeing the problems that may be in your own, or your teammates’ relationship.

  • 3 key elements are: Intimidation, humiliation, and physical injury.
  • Types include:
    • Physical abuse
    • Verbal or emotional abuse
    • Sexual abuse
    • Stalking or cyberstalking
      • Experts agree the internet is increasingly the “weapon” of choice. It is a tool to exert power and fear and it’s more anonymous. The National Institute of Justice estimate a million Americans fall victim to stalkers each year. (Pima County Sheriff’s Department and the Tucson Police Department.)
    • Economic abuse or financial abuse
    • Spiritual abuse
  • Early warning signs include, jealousy, attempts at monitoring activities, not respecting boundaries, possessiveness, threats of destruction of property, questioning beliefs and choices, and putting the person down.
  • Remember – “Checking up” on someone (control) is not the same thing as “Checking in” (concern).
  • Look for patterns — The Cycle of Abuse normally includes the following stages, which vary in time and intensity.
    1. Stage One – Honeymoon Phase
    2. Stage Two – Normal Phase
    3. Stage Three – Tension Building
    4. Stage Four – Explosion
  • Do not automatically assume that the female is always the victim and the male is always the perpetrator.

Did you know…?

  • Research suggests that stalking victimization may be greater among college students than in the general population.
  • Many believe technology makes dating abuse more prevalent and more hidden. Consider:
    • 68% of teens say boyfriend/girlfriend sharing private or embarrassing pictures/videos on cell phone and computers is a serious problem.
    • 30% of teens say they are text messaged 10, 20, 30 times an hour by a partner inquiring where they are, what they’re doing or whom they’re with.
    • 25% of teens in a relationship say they have been called names, harassed or put down by their partner through cell phones and texting. (

Action Steps

  1. If someone you know is being cyberstalked tell them:
  2. Save all messages and call law-enforcement agencies.
    • Block the user from your social networking page or from e-mailing you.
    • If the threats are on the stalker’s webpage, save the entire screen including the URL and print it. Bookmarking it is not enough.
    • Don’t confront the stalker. The situation could escalate.
    • Contact the social networking page in question. The company can take down the website and/or ban the stalker.
    • Be careful when adding names to email lists, giving real names in public forums, leaving social networking pages unrestricted or sharing passwords.
  3. Encourage any person in an abusive relationship to seek professional help.
  4. Think about your own safety when you approach the situation. You might want to have a friend with you for back up and help.
  5. If the violence is/gets physical, call 9-1-1 right away.
  6. Do not touch the individuals no matter how well you may know them.
  7. Be aware of your tone of voice and volume. Stay calm.
  8. Calmly attempt to separate the individuals without putting yourself in danger.
  9. Be respectful of both individuals and their viewpoints. Listen fully to the concerns.



Violence Wheel/Nonviolence Wheel:


  • University of Arizona Athletics – Title IX information page
  • 9-1-1 or Campus Police – Do not be afraid to contact police if you have information about an assault even after the fact.
  • Campus Program for Sexual Assault/ Relationship Violence
  • Dean of Students office
  • Athletics Psychologist
  • Hall Director if in the dorms
  • Campus Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Life Skills Director


For further information, please contact us.