Women's Center

Relationship Violence

Relationship violence also known as "dating violence" or "intimate partner violence", is a chronic pattern of abuse by one person in an intimate relationship as a means of gaining power and control over the other person. This abusive behavior is frequently a combination of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and/or economic abuse.

Who To Call for Help
If you are a student at Duke University (male or female) and are the victim of relationship violence, contact us at the Women’s Center M-F, 9-5, 919-684-3897 or email WCHelp@duke.edu.

 If this is an emergency situation and you feel you are in danger, call 911 or Duke Police at 919-684-2444.

What is Relationship Violence?
Relationship violence also known as "dating violence" or "intimate partner violence," is a chronic pattern of abuse by one person in an intimate relationship as a means of gaining power and control over the other person. This abusive behavior is frequently a combination of physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and/or economic abuse. 

Relationship violence often escalates over time and is not limited to any racial, ethnic, or religious group, economic or social class, sexual orientation, or age group.

Although each situation is different, some common warning signs of an abusive partner are:

  • You feel afraid of your partner much of the time
  • You avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner
  • You feel that you cannot do anything right for your partner
  • Your partner humiliates or yells at you
  • Your partner criticizes you and puts you down
  • Your partner treats you so badly that you are embarrassed in front of family and friends
  • Your partner ignores or belittles your opinions or accomplishments
  • Your partner blames you for their own abusive behavior
  • Your partner treats you as property or an object to meet their desires, not as a person
  • Your partner has a bad or unpredictable temper
  • Your partner hurts you or threatens to hurt you or kill you
  • Your partner threatens to hurt themselves if you break up with them
  • Your partner forces you to have sex or does not take no for an answer
  • Your partner destroys your property
  • Your partner acts excessively jealous or possessive
  • Your partner tries to controls where you go and what you do
  • Your partner constantly checks up on you
  • Your partner grabs you, pushes you, blocks your path, grabs your cell phone from you when you are calling for help

How We Can Help
If you are concerned about your relationship or your partner, confidential help is available. The Women’s Center’s Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Intervention can assist you with the following:

  • A consultation to assist you in determining if your relationship is abusive
  • A plan for your safety, both physically and emotionally
  • Information about resources available to you both on and off campus
  • Solution-oriented psychotherapy designed to help you decide if you want to remain in the relationship and, if not, how to leave the relationship safely

Other Campus Resources
Relationship Violence is often a crime and is typically a violation of Duke Student Conduct policy. A perpetrator can be held accountable through either or both systems. Duke University has two polices that potentially address intimate partner violence, including the following: Sexual Misconduct Policy and Physical Abuse, Fighting and Endangerment.   Because reporting to police or to the Office of Student Conduct involve different systems and responses, someone at the Women's Center can talk through these differences and what happens next based on the nature of the case. You can report an assault to Duke Police (919-684-2444) or to the Office of Student Conduct.

If you would like to talk to someone, confidential help is available. It is your choice to talk to someone about what happened. At Duke, the Women's Center staff, medical providers, campus clergy, and counselors at CAPS are completely confidential and are bound not to share anything without your permission unless someone's life is in danger or a court of law orders its release. However, if you disclose relationship violence to staff at Duke, including RAs, RCs, FACs and other Student Affairs staff, they are obligated to file a report with the Office of Student Conduct.

How Friends and Family Can Help
If you are concerned about a friend, it’s helpful to express that concern, not as blaming or anger, but a simple statement of what you have observed, such as “I notice that your boyfriend calls and texts you a lot while we are out. Does he have a problem with you doing things without him?” You can also tell your friend or family member about the services offered at the Women’s Center and offer to come with them. Many students do this and find it helpful.

If you are concerned about your friend’s safety, tell them. Emphasize to them that they do not deserve to be treated this way.  Encourage them to engage in activities outside of the relationship. Be careful not to judge your friend or make them think you think they are stupid for “putting up” with the abuse.

Additional Resources