Dating & Domestic Violence

"Piqpakkutuqaåiigñiq suli Qiksiksrautiqaåniq Utuqqanaanun Allanullu"

"Love and Respect for Our Elders and One Another" -North Slope Iñupiaq Value


Knowing What to Look For

58% of Alaskan women have experienced intimate partner violence or sexual violence.

Dating violence also can be called domestic violence. Dating and domestic violence are patterns of behaviors in relationships that includes a range of abusive actions that serve to set up forceful control of one person over the other. The difference between dating violence and domestic violence is that domestic violence is when couples live together, but the cycle of abuse and types of abuse are the same as dating violence.

Dating and domestic violence occurs in all relationships, young and old, married and unmarried, all economic backgrounds, heterosexual and same-sex. Violence does not discriminate. Even though violence against women is the most common, men are also abused – especially verbally and emotionally. Remember, no matter whom the abuse comes from, man or woman, parent or partner, older adult or teenager it is never okay and you never deserve it.

For more information about other types of abuse not from someone you are dating, married to, or being intimate with, please go to the section below about Different Types of Abuse.

!! Are you in immediate danger? Call 911. If you need help escaping from dating or domestic violence or just need someone to talk to about your relationship, check out our Get Help section. No one needs to live in fear.

!! Do you have a friend that is in an abusive situation? Go to our page just for friends to how to help someone who is experiencing abuse, How Can I Help?

Warning Signs of Dating Violence and Domestic Violence

Recognizing the signs of dating and domestic violence is the first step to breaking the cycle and getting help. No one needs to live in fear and experience the pain you have.

The biggest sign that you are in an abusive relationship is that your have fear of your partner or their reactions. Listen to yourself about your relationship and remember you are important and deserve to question all your relationships to make sure you have a healthy, loving, and fulfilling relationship. Show more

You may be a victim of domestic violence if your partner:

Jealousy and possessiveness

  • Isolates you from your friends and family
  • Goes through your belongings
  • Wants you to drop all your friends, especially of the same sex as your partner’s
  • Expects you to spend all your time with him/her

Controlling behavior

  • Calls or texts you constantly to know where you are and what you’re doing
  • Shows up at your work or school to check up on you
  • Checks mileage on your car
  • Bosses you around
  • Gives you orders
  • Makes all the decisions
  • Disregards your suggestions and wishes
  • Discounts your feelings
  • Makes you feel trapped or crazy
  • Blames you for all his/her problems and makes you feel his/her behavior is your fault
  • Withholds approval
  • Puts you down and calls you names

Hypersensitivity and explosive behavior

  • Bursts out in anger unpredictably
  • Makes you feel like you’re walking on eggshells
  • Makes your friends and family concerned for you and your safety

Threatening and using violence

  • Grabs, pushes, shoves, slaps, shakes, kicks, punches and chokes you
  • Pressures you for sex
  • Breaks or destroys objects, especially those you value

If you answer yes to any of these, or have experienced anything listed on our Types of Abuse section below, you may want to talk to someone about your relationship. Our Get Help page has many free resources available where you can talked to someone about your relationship or help you leave the relationship.

Hide this content.

Cycle of Dating Violence & Domestic Violence

Unhealthy and abusive relationships follow a cycle: Set Up, Abuse, Guilt & Fear of Getting Caught, Justifying, Normal Behavior/Honeymoon, Fantasy & Planning. Show more about the cycle

  • Set Up
    Your abuser puts you in and controls a situation where you have no choice but to react in a way that will, in your abuser’s mind, justify the abuse. This is often where you could feel that no matter what you did there was no way to make them happy.
  • Abuse
    When the time is right and the situation is being controlled by your abuser, they will continue the violence. Although this may seem like a time your abuser is out of control, the attack is actually a way for the abuser to show power and control over you and everyone else around you. The abuse will become worse over time. There are different types of abuse: physical, mental, emotional, stalking, financial, verbal or nonverbal, spiritual, and cultural abuse.
  • Guilt & Fear of Getting Caught
    After abusing you, your partner might apologize and feel guilty. Instead of being truly sincere and regretting that they abused you, the apologies and the guilt comes from a fear of getting caught. The abuser is more worried about the consequences of getting caught abusing you than the hurt they have done to you. Your abuser may also say they will never do it again and use gifts, promises, and bribes as a way to take away their guilt. This is really about keeping you silent and to prevent you from speaking out about the abuse. The real purpose is controlling you again.
  • Justifying
    Justifying is when your abuser makes excuses for their abuse of you. This may look like them telling you that you made them hurt you or it was your fault for the abuse. It may also look like excuses your abuser makes for the abuse, such as “I was drunk” or “I was out of control” or “I let my anger get to me” these are all excuses that let the abuser avoid taking responsibility for the abuse.
  • Normal Behavior/Honeymoon
    Between the phases of abuse there is the downtime, the normal behavior or honeymoon. Honeymoon refers to when your abuser is trying to make up for the abuse. They also may pretend like nothing happen. What also happens is a buildup. Your abuser may threaten you, such as “no one will believe you” or “You’ll never see your kids again.” During this phase your abuser is trying to get control of you again. The peacefulness of this time may give you hope that your abuser has really changed this time. This is not true, remember abuse gets worse over time and eventually this period can disappear altogether.
  • Fantasy & Planning
    Your abuser spends a lot of time fantasizing and planning their abuse of you. Part of the fantasizing is thinking about all the things you’ve done right, according to them, they may even use excuses from the Justifying stage to start planning. This is all, in their mind, reasons why you deserve the abuse. Your abuser will start to set you up to fail and put their plan into action, creating a situation where they can hurt you again.

Your abuser may give you apologies and loving gestures when the abuse is not happening and can make it hard to leave. Often abusers will make you believe that you are the only one that can help them, you’re responsible to help them, that things will change, and that they truly love you. If fact, even if you are not experiencing an abusive period, this cycle of control and fear is abusive. When you are in an abusive relationship, it is abusive all the time.

Hide this content.

Staying with your abuser is dangerous, the longer you stay with your abuser higher your chance is of permanent or fatal damage.

On average, more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.

(Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S. 1993-2004, 2006.)

The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example

A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, "I'm sorry for hurting you." What he does not say is, "Because I might get caught." He then justifies his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her "If you weren't such a worthless whore I wouldn't have to hit you." He then acts sorry, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because "you're having an affair with the store clerk." He has just set her up.

Source: Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service

Different Types of Abuse

Remember, just because your abuser isn’t hitting you, that’s doesn’t mean you are not being abused. There are many different types of abuse and all of them leave lasting scars on the soul.

There are:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Financial or economic abuse
  • Verbal or nonverbal abuse
  • Spiritual or religious abuse
  • Cultural abuse
Show more about the different types of abuse

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is what people think of when they hear dating or domestic violence or abuse. Physical abuse covers anytime someone hurts your body. This includes pinching, pushing, grabbing, slapping, hitting, tripping, choking, burning, murder, and more. Physical abuse is when someone uses physical force against you in a way that hurts you or puts you in danger. Physical abuse is always a crime and can be reported to the police.

Remember! It is still abuse if:

  • The incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of physical abuse; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example.
  • The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you.
  • The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!
  • There has not been any physical violence.Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand.

Source: Breaking the Silence: a Handbook for Victims of Violence in Nebraska

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is a type of physical abuse! Anytime someone makes you have sexual behaviors that are unwanted, unsafe, or humiliating is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even when it comes from someone your dating or married or seeing, is still is act of aggression and violence used to control you. Forced sex, not matter who the person is to you, is still rape.

Emotional Abuse

Many people think if physical or sexual abuse is not happening means that abuse is not happening. This isn’t true, emotional abuse can be just as or more destructive to a person long-term as physical abuse. Abusers use emotional abuse to destroy your self-esteem, your feelings of being worthy and valuable, and your independence. This can make you feel that there is no way out of the relationship, or that your abuser is the only person who will love you.

Emotional abuse uses words and actions to control what you do and don’t do. It eventually comes to the point where your abuser controls almost every part of your life and you require their permission to do anything.

Emotional abuse includes threats directed at you, your family, your children, your pets, and your possession to control you. Emotional abuse also includes threats of your abuser harming themselves to keep you from leaving them.

Economic or Financial Abuse

We all know that money and choices we make in our lives are connected. When we remember that, it makes sense that financial abuse can happen. Your abusers goal is to control you and if they can they will use money to control you. Economic or financial abuse includes:

  • Rigidly controlling your finances.
  • Withholding money or credit cards.
  • Making you account for every penny you spend.
  • Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
  • Restricting you to an allowance.
  • Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
  • Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly, making you always stay home if the kids are sick, showing up at your work, not sharing the car).
  • Stealing from you or taking your money.
  • Not putting your name on joint large purchases or loans (cars, boats, snow machines, ATVS, houses, etc)

Verbal or Non-Verbal Abuse

Verbal or non-verbal abuse is harder to recognize or see than physical or economic abuse. Like emotional abuse, studies show that verbal or nonverbal abuse can be much more emotionally damaging that physical abuse.

Verbal or Nonverbal Abuse may include:

  • Threatening or intimidating to get you to agree to something
  • Destruction of the victim’s personal property and possessions, or threats to do so
  • Violence to an object (such as a wall or piece of furniture) or pet, in the presence of the intended victim, as a way of instilling fear of further violence
  • Yelling or screaming
  • Name-calling
  • Constant harassment
  • Embarrassing, making fun of, or mocking the victim, either alone within the household, in public, or in front of family or friends
  • Criticizing or diminishing the victim’s accomplishments or goals
  • Not trusting the victim’s decision-making
  • Telling the victim that they are worthless on their own, without the abuser
  • Excessive possessiveness
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Excessive checking-up on the victim to make sure they are at home or where they said they would be
  • Saying hurtful things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and/or using the substance as an excuse to say the hurtful things
  • Threatening to kill themselves if you don’t stay with them or agree to do something
  • Saying that victim is the cause of their mental illnesses, bad feelings, or addiction

Spiritual or Religious Abuse

Spiritual or religious abuse is when you abusers uses your beliefs against you to control you. This can look like telling you that you are failing at your faith to control you saying other things about your beliefs to manipulate you. It can also be when your abusers prevents you from practicing your religious or spiritual beliefs or making fun of your faith or lack thereof. Spiritual or religious abuse can also be when your abuser forces the children to be raised in a religion that you have not agreed to.

Cultural Abuse

Cultural abuse is a type of abuse that we as Alaska Native people rarely think about. Many of us have experienced discrimination towards us because of our culture, so when that happens in our relationships we don't think of it as abuse. Examples of cultural abuse are:

  • When your abuser keeps you from practicing your traditional activities
  • When your abuser making fun or saying negative things about your culture or ethnicities, such as “Natives are lazy” or “Natives are primitive or backwards” or “Subsistence is not important” or “Native art is ugly” and more
  • Mocking your Native language or accent
  • When your abuser doesn’t let your children be raised knowing their culture and history
  • When your abuser keeps you from going to Native gatherings or visiting back home

Hide this content.

Remember! No one ever deserves or asks to be abused. You are entitled to feel safe, respected, and loved in all your relationships. If you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please visit our Get Help page.