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Relationship Violence


Relationship Violence is defined as intentional violent or controlling behavior by a person who is, or was, in a relationship with the victim. It can include such behavior as actual or threatened physical injury, sexual assault, psychological abuse, economic control, and/or progressive social isolation.

Relationship Violence cuts across all lines including race, age, sexual orientation, and social-economic class. It is rarely isolated and almost always escalates in severity over time. Relationship Violence can be stopped. Everyone has the right to live with respect and dignity.


The Boston College Code of Student Conduct affirms that all students have “the right to be free from violence, force, threats, and abuse, and the right to move about freely.”

Emotional/Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse is controlling behavior through degradation and fear. The abuser's actions often work toward his/her dependency on the abuser so that the manifestation of control over him/her can escalate and become endless. Emotional abuse covers a wide range of potentially damaging and dangerous behavior:

  • Diminishing his/her self-esteem by calling him/her names and insisting that she/he does not look desirable and is inadequate as a person.
  • Threatening to leave him/her or cause harm to themselves or to him/her and intimidating and ordering him/her to do things that she is not comfortable doing.
  • Controlling him/her economically.
  • Isolating her/him from his/her family, friends, and roommates.
  • Emotional/Psychological Abuse can lead and usually does lead to physical abuse.

The Battering Cycle

For many people living in a violent environment abuse occurs in cycles. For each situation the cycle varies in time, intensity and in the form of abuse.

Three Stages:

Tension Building - Victim senses abuser's edginess and begins to feel that abuse is deserved.

Violent Episode - Victim is battered, yet denies severity of the issues.

Loving Stage - Abuser and victim believe it will never happen again but it almost always does.

What to do:

  • Get medical attention
  • Get counseling
  • Find support while learning to change, deal with, or leave the violent environment
  • Go to a safe place and call for advice/help. No one deserves to be abused
  • Press criminal charges: you have the right to file assault and batter charges against your abuser
  • Abuse Prevention Act: under this law you may obtain a restraining and vacate order from the court if you are threatened with abuse or have been abused
  • Family Support: find those friends or relatives who support you and will offer you shelter if needed


Your Legal Rights

No one deserves to be threatened, hit or beaten. Violence against another person is a crime. The Abuse Prevention Act was created to protect people who are battered. A restraining order can be obtained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays, with the assistance of the police and an on-call judge.

A restraining order directs the alleged abuser to cease abusing the victim, to stay away from the victim and to have no contact with the victim. Violation of such orders is a criminal offense and violators are subject to mandatory arrest by the police.

Any person who has been abused physically or sexually, even by members of the same sex, or threatened with abuse may obtain a temporary restraining order.

The Boston College Police will assist you in obtaining a restraining order. There is no cost to the victim.


Stalking Law

In Massachusetts a stalking law is in effect. This new law aims at halting a pattern of threats and harassment.

The Boston College Police offer the assistance of specially trained officers to victims of relationship violence. We also recommend that victims of abuse seek counseling services available on campus.



BC Womens Center
(617) 552-3489
The Women's Center (WC) is an advocacy collaborative focused on women and gender issues. It provides the Boston College community with a forum to discuss contemporary social topics through empowering educational programs; nurturing peer-to-peer support groups; and outreach awareness campaigns.

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center
617-492-RAPE (7273)
As the second oldest rape crisis center in the United States, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) has been highly visible locally and nationally in the fight against violence against women.

Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
617-338-2355 (Boston, MA)
Issues literature in various Asian languages for abused women, support groups, advocacy, referrals.

Casa Myrna Vazquez
SafeLink Hotline: 877-785-2020 (Boston, MA)
Emergency Shelter for battered women, support services, hotline, Spanish.

Counseling and Education to Stop Domestic Violence.
For people who batter.

The Network/LaRed
The Network/La Red is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities.

Gay Mens Domestic Violence Project
Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project is a grassroots, non-profit organization founded by a gay male survivor of domestic violence and developed through the strength, contributions and participation of the community.

Fenway Community Health Center
Information: 617-267-0900
Spanish: 617-927-6460
Toll free: 888-242-0900

Greater Boston Legal Services
Boston Office: 617-371-1234
Cambridge Office: 617-603-2700

Jane Doe, INC.

Brighton District Court

Newton District Court