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Intimate Partner Violence

A recent film was shown in the USU here at CSULB called, “Sin by Silence.” The film documented convicted women who had murdered their spouses in a desperate attempt to escape their abusive husbands. Brenda Clubine, who both participated in the film and spoke at the event, shared her story. At the time of her husband’s death, she had 11 restraining orders against him (Clubine, 2013). She received a 16 year-to-life sentence for murdering her husband while trying to escape a physical confrontation with him. “I spent my 21st birthday in prison anticipating on spending the rest of my life there. How did you spend yours (Clubine, 2013)?”

Intimate partner violence (IPV), also known as dating violence, is a major concern in our country and around the world. The definition of IPV includes any “physical, sexual, or psychological harm to a person by their current or former partner or spouse.” Different studies have shown that 20-45% of college students have reported physical violence in their dating relationships (Iconis, 2013).

Physical and sexual violence has become an increasingly discussed topic since the 1980’s when many resource centers, shelters, and hotlines weren’t yet available.  Organizations concerned with this issue mobilized efforts to increase awareness of IPV and to educate on ways to prevent it.

Physical violence is defined as “…intentional use of physical force to potentially cause disability, injury, harm, or death.” (CDC, 2010).  This includes behaviors like scratching, pushing, shoving, slapping, pinching, burning, biting, and using a weapon to cause harm. Sexual violence is defined as “…compelling a person to engage in a sexual act against their will or attempting to, or completing a sexually unwanted act towards a person who is unwilling or unable to understand the condition of the act.” This may include pressuring or forcing someone to do a sexual act when they are unwilling or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Psychological violence is defined as “…trauma to the victim caused by acts, threats, or coercive tactics.” This may include insulting, controlling, threatening, humiliating, isolating, and harassing the victim (CDC, 2010).

While it may be more obvious to spot signs of physical and sexual abuse, psychological abuse often goes unnoticed and unreported. Many people may not realize they’re being psychologically abused. This is because violence often starts with small conflicts that may be ignored or forgiven, but can grow quickly from there  (Clark, 2010). It can also be hard for a victim to see what is actually happening. The love and attraction they feel for their abuser is confusing.  They may be ashamed, or afraid to tell someone in fear of their abuser finding out and harming them. Recent studies indicate individuals experiencing physical violence will usually experience psychological abuse (Clark, 2010).

Although disagreements are typical in any relationship, it is how those differences are resolved that contributes to a healthy or unhealthy relationship.  Based upon your past or current relationships, how would you answer the following questions?

  • Does your partner listen to what you’re really saying?
  • Does your partner respect your ideas or views?
  • Does your partner help you work towards a solution or compromise (will they meet you halfway)?
  • Does your partner insult you or put you down?

The following are signs that your relationship is abusive if you experience or witness

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Anger over small things
  • Throws or breaks things when angry
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
  • Controls what you wear, who you spend your time with, and where you go
  • Yelling and name calling
  • Is highly critical of you (perhaps telling you that you are wrong, stupid or crazy)
  • Slapping, hitting, pushing, shoving

If you identify signs of abuse in your relationship, it is important that you remove yourself from that relationship as soon as possible before the abuse goes on longer and may become physically violent.

  • Be clear about what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable.
  • Your opinions, your independence and your safety are absolutely important! 
  • Do not put up with a partner who makes you feel bad about yourself, nor should you ever put with anger or violence.
  • Trust your feelings and instincts about the relationship.
  • Sometimes family members and friends are correct in their opinion about your relationship.  Listen to why they are telling you to get out of the relationship.
  • Have a support system or get a support system!
  • Avoid drinking and using drugs. When you are under the influence you may continue to make choices that are not what you would normally do, or even put up with violent behavior.
  • Always expect respect, from your partners and from yourself!


If you are seeking help because of IPV, contact any of the following references:

  • Call 911 in an emergency
  • Call a crisis center, shelter, or hotline:
    • Interval House: (562) 594-9492; (562)594-4555; (714) 891-8121
    • Laura’s House: (949) 361-3775
    Get counseling CSULB offers free counseling to students through Counseling & Psychological Service (CaPS). Call (562) 985-4001 or go to BH-226
  • CSULB offers Project SAFE (free for students), for victims of relationship violence, stalking, and sexual assault. Call Linda Peña in the Student Health Services at (562) 985-1732 or go to the Health Resource Center SHS-268.
  • Contact Jeane Caveness in the Women’s Resource Center at (562) 985-4279.       


Centers for Disease Control. (2010). Intimate Partner Violence: Definitions. Retrieved from    

Centers for Disease Control. (2012). Intimate Partner Violence: Consequences. Retrieved from    

Clark, K. (2008). Dating Dangers. ETR Associates. Print.

Clubine, B. “Sin by Silence.” California State University Long Beach. University Student Union, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA. February 2013. Presentation.

Iconis, R. (2013). Dating violence among college students. Contemporary Issues in Education Research. 6(1). Retrieved from CLER/article/view/7609

Updated 03/28/13