Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors based on power and control within an intimate relationship.

Intimate partner violence, sometimes called domestic violence or dating violence, is not limited to heterosexual couples. It can happen in any type of relationship including people in short-term relationships, queer relationships, or polyamorous relationships. Anyone of any gender identity can be an abuser and anyone of any gender identity can be a victim.

Additionally, abuse is not limited to being physical. There are many forms of relationship abuse:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Slapping or punching
    Scratching, pinching, biting, or kicking
    Throwing objects at the victim
    Pulling the victim’s hair
    Use of a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon
    Grabbing or squeezing the victim’s face to make them look at something
    Preventing the victim from leaving or forcing them to go somewhere
  • Emotional/Verbal Abuse
  • Name-calling and putdowns
    Yelling or screaming at the victim
    Using the children - to guilt the victim, to participate in the abuse, etc.
    Blaming the victim for their own abuse
    Punching holes in the walls to intimidate the victim
    Gaslighting or “crazy-making” to manipulate or confuse the victim
    Accusations of cheating and other signs of jealousy
    Threats of self-harm or suicide to manipulate the victim
    Threats to expose one’s immigration status
    Threats to expose a one’s HIV status
    Threats to expose the victim’s sexual orientation
    Embarrassing or ridiculing the victim in public
    Preventing the victim from spending time with others
    Not allowing the victim to practice their religion
  • Economic Abuse
  • Preventing the victim from obtaining or keeping a job
    Stealing the victim’s money
    Creating a situation where the victim is financially dependent
    Harassing the victim’s co-workers or supervisors to get them fired
    Spending the victim’s paycheck on personal items without permission
    Sabotaging the victim’s education or job
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Unwanted sexual touching or kissing
    Forcing the victim to perform sexual acts
    Sabotaging birth control or condoms
    Unwanted violent sexual activity
    Intentionally attempting to impregnate someone
    Refusing to use birth control and condoms
    Using the existing intimate relationship to justify unwanted sexual activity
    Ignoring sexual boundaries
  • Digital or Technological Abuse
  • Breaking the victim’s phone
    Tracking the victim’s location with a GPS device
    Constantly checking-in while the victim is with other people
    Demanding the passwords to social media accounts
    Looking through text messages or pictures without permission
    Making derogatory posts about the victim on social media
    Sending unwanted texts or pictures
    Threatening to send intimate photos or videos to others
Some of these behaviors are criminal offenses in the state of California and UC Davis policy violations.

The Cycle of Violence


It is common for victims who are experiencing intimate partner violence to stay with their abusers, and even return to the relationship after some time away.  Victims stay and/or return to the abusive relationship for a variety of reasons: hope that the abuse will stop, fear of not being able to make it on their own, concern that their safety might be more at risk if they leave, etc. The cycle of violence can help us understand the complicated dynamics of an abusive intimate relationship. During this cycle, the abuse is followed by a honeymoon stage. The abuser may apologize for their behavior, give the victim gifts, and promise that they will never do it again. However, this honeymoon doesn’t last and the relationship will go into a tension-building phase where the victim feels like they are walking on eggshells. They may feel unsafe and try to do everything they can to appease their partner. This can include changing their daily routine, stop spending time with their family or friends, give their partner access to their social media accounts, etc. Eventually, the violence or explosive phase occurs again. After this phase, the relationship enters a false honeymoon phase where the abuser may apologize, promise to change, give the victim gifts, etc. The relationship continues to move back and forth between abuse and good times or just times of less abuse.

Please visit the UC Davis Sexual Violence Website to learn more about the UCD policy on dating/domestic violence