Intimate partner violence consists of any physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. Although we categorize it under sexual violence, intimate partner violence does not assume that partners have engaged in sexual activity. If you would like to talk to someone about your relationship, contact a VOICE Advocate. You can also find some information about safety and warning signs on our Intimate Partner Violence and Your Safety page. 

Intimate partner violence is often characterized by physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or psychological/emotional abuse.


Have you experienced sexual violence or have questions related to victim-survivor support, referrals, accommodations, and reporting options and need to speak to a VOICE Advocate?

For confidential support contact us at 404.894.9000 24 hours per day.

Appointments are available for individuals affiliated with Georgia Tech.  

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to:

  • Pushing, hitting, choking, kicking, biting, cutting, burning, spitting
  • Holding you down or preventing you from leaving the room
  • Throwing objects at you
  • Threatening you with a weapon
  • Locking you in or out of the house
  • Abandoning you in dangerous places
  • Preventing you from getting sleep or waking you up out of sleep
  • Endangering you by driving wildly or recklessly

Sexual Abuse

1. Use of physical force, threats, or coercion to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed

2. Attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act, e.g., because of illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or because of intimidation or pressure

3. Abusive sexual contact. Sexual abuse includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Treating you as a sex object
  • Criticizing the way you act during sex 
  • Withholding sex and affection
  • Forcing you to have sex when you do not want to
  • Forcing you to have sex with other people 
  • Forcing you to have sex after an argument or attack
  • Calling you a "whore" after sex
  • Insisting on unwanted or uncomfortable touching 
  • Forcing you to have sex then telling you that you "wanted it" 
  • Telling and bragging about sex with other partners
  • Threats of physical or sexual abuse, using words, gestures, or weapons to communicate the intent to cause death, disability, injury, or physical harm.

Psychological and Emotional Abuse

Psychological/ emotional abuse is the use of verbal and nonverbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally, and/or to exert control over another person. Coercive control is a strategic form of ongoing psychological and emotional abuse that is based on control, manipulation, and oppression whereby the perpetrator exerts power over a victim in a relationship, often through intimidation or humiliation, which tends to be more subtle and harder to spot. Psychological/ emotional abuse includes, but is not limited to:

  • Controlling or attempting to control what you can and cannot do
  • Ignoring your feelings
  • Making fun of your beliefs
  • Manipulating you with lies
  • Withholding information from you
  • Degrading women as a group
  • Denying you access to money or other basic resources
  • Calling you derogatory names
  • Humiliating you
  • Telling you that you're stupid, dumb, fat, or ugly
  • Isolating you from your friends and family
  • Constantly criticizing you and the way you do things
  • Making fun of your friends and family
  • Threatening to leave you or making you leave
  • Threatening to hurt you, your family, or your pets
  • Threatening to take your children
  • Threatening suicide

10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

While everyone does unhealthy things sometimes, we can all learn to love better by recognizing unhealthy signs and shifting to healthy behaviors. If you are seeing unhealthy signs in your relationship, it’s important to not ignore them and understand they can escalate to abuse. If you think you are in a dangerous situation, trust your gut and get help.

  • Intensity: When someone expresses very extreme feelings and over-the top behavior that feels overwhelming.
  • Manipulations: When someone tries to control your decisions, actions or emotions.
  • Sabotage: When someone purposely ruins your reputation, achievements, or success.
  • Guilting: When someone makes you feel responsible for their actions or makes you feel like it’s your job to keep them happy.
  • Deflecting Responsibility: When someone repeatedly makes excuses for their unhealthy behavior.
  • Possessiveness: When someone is jealous to a point where they try to control who you spend time with and what you do.
  • Isolation: When someone keeps you away from friends, family, or other people.
  • Belittling: When someone does and says things to make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Volatility: When someone has a really strong, unpredictable reaction that makes you feel scared, confused or intimidated.
  • Betrayal: When someone is disloyal or acts in an intentionally dishonest way.

10 Signs of Healthy Relationship

Healthy relationships bring out the best in you and make you feel good about yourself. A healthy relationship does not mean a “perfect” relationship, and no one is healthy 100% of the time, but the signs below are behaviors you should strive for in all of your relationships. Healthy relationships manifest themselves as healthy communication, but in order to have a healthy relationship, you need to love yourself first. Here are some characteristics and behaviors of a healthy relationship.

  • Comfortable Pace: The relationship moves at a speed that feels enjoyable for each person.
  • Honesty: You can be truthful and candid without fearing how the other person will respond.
  • Respect: You value one another's beliefs and opinions, and love one another for who you are as a person.
  • Kindness: You are caring and empathetic to one another, and provide comfort and support.
  • Healthy Conflict: Openly and respectfully discussing issues and confronting disagreements non-judgmentally.
  • Trust: Confidence that your partner won’t do anything to hurt you or ruin the relationship.
  • Independence: You have space to be yourself outside of the relationship.
  • Equality: The relationship feels balanced and everyone puts the same effort into the success of the relationship.
  • Taking Responsibility: Owning your own actions and words.
  • Fun: You enjoy spending time together and bring out the best in each other