Student Advocacy and Trauma Support

Domestic and Relationship Violence

Relationship violence is directed toward a current or former partner or spouse. Relationship violence is a cycle of behavior that repeats over and over again.  Without intervention, the violence tends to escalate and become more serious. These controlling behaviors are a violation of the Winthrop University Code of Conduct and the SC Code of Laws.

Relationship violence, for the purpose of this description and related procedures, may include but is not limited to:

  • Emotional/psychological abuse (e.g., harassment, name calling, manipulation) that creates and maintains a degrading environment; and
  • Physical abuse (e.g., slapping, pulling hair, punching)
  • Sexual abuse (e.g., forced sexual conduct and/or any behavior that meets the definition of sexual assault).
  • Threats of abuse (e.g., threatening to hit, harm or use of a weapon on another or self, or other forms of verbal abuse)

Domestic violence is NOT the victim's fault and it is NOT caused or excused by:

  • Alcohol and drugs - Perpetrators may blame their abuse on the effects of drugs and alcohol, and many victims believe that drugs and alcohol cause the abuse. However, the fact is that the majority of the time, abuse also occurs at times other than when the perpetrator is not using drugs and alcohol. The two behaviors may be linked, but they are two separate problems which need separate interventions.
  • Anger
  • Behavior of the victim or problems in the relationship
  • Genetics
  • Mental Illness (personality disorders, mental illness, or poor impulse control)
  • Stress

Domestic violence involves choices by a perpetrator. Abusers often strongly defend their actions by denying, minimizing, justifying, or rationalizing their behavior.


Categories and Forms

Perpetrators may use many tactics to dominate, shame, or control their victims. These coercive and violent tactics are used without regard to the victim's emotional or physical wellbeing. These tactics frequently escalate in severity and frequency over time. While domestic violence can take many forms, there are four main categories:

  • Destruction of Property or Pets - No contact with victim's body, but these assaults are still meant to hurt victim.
    • Destroying objects during arguments; breaking victim's favorite property; attacking the victim's pets
  • Physical - A wide range of aggressive behaviors which cause harm to the victim's body
    • Pushing, hitting, kicking, squeezing, choking, pinching, poking, hair pulling, spitting, burning, clubbing, stabbing, or shooting.
  • Psychological - Mental or verbal assaults on the victim. Psychological violence does not involve bodily harm to the victim. Weapons are used rather than physical attacks.
    • Threats of violence on the victim or the victim's loved ones, deportation, custody, suicide; forcing victim to do degrading things; controlling victim's activities such as sleep, eating habits, social relationships, access to money; or attacking the victim's self-esteem.
  • Sexual - Any unwanted sexual contact
    • Unwelcomed contact with the victim's breasts, buttocks, or genitals; using coercion or manipulation to try to get to your partner in sexual activity of any kind; sexual activity accompanied by physical assaults; using drugs or alcohol to get sex; forced sexual activity; or forcing sexual activity with a third person.


  • A need to have power and control over an intimate partner. Fear is a part of an effective strategy for creating and maintaining power and control.
  • It is embedded in our social customs and institutions. Some men believe they are entitled to use physical or sexual violence.
  • It is learned behavior that comes from observing one's community, peer group, and family. Abusive behavior is maintained by a pattern of reinforcement.


Facts About Domestic Violence and Relationship Violence


Guide For a Student Experiencing Relationship Violence

  • Contact the Winthrop University Police Department or the local police. Make arrangements for alternate housing.
  • Make a plan for safety. Once violence occurs, it may occur again, especially if the perpetrator believes that he/she is losing control.
  • Seek medical attention as needed through Health Services or through an after hours emergency service.
  • Talk to a trusted person, because relationship violence is traumatic and feelings can be overwhelming.
  • Utilize the confidential professional local and on-campus resources available.