Dating or Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling or coercive behavior by one individual to maintain power and control over another in an intimate relationship. It can be physical, which is what most people think about, but it can also include emotional, sexual or economic abuse. It includes the use of intimidation, threats and isolating behaviors. Technology can play a large role in dating or domestic violence. If there is no intervention, the violence or abuse may escalate over time, both in frequency and severity.
The terms dating and domestic violence are essentially interchangeable under NJ law.
It is important to note that NJ law does not strictly define “dating relationship”, meaning that there is no set time limit for how long a couple must have been dating in order for the victim to seek relief under the law.
How does abuse or violence occur in a relationship?
Generally, abuse or violence occurs in a repetitive pattern known as “The Cycle of Violence”. The cycle consists of three phases: Tension Building, Abusive Incident, Honeymoon (Calm Period)/Recapture.
The tension building phase is as it sounds. Tension begins to increase between the two partners, small arguments may occur. The tension keeps building, much like a rubber band being stretched. The couple is unable to break the tension in a healthy fashion, such as talking about what’s happening. The victim does not feel safe in trying to confront her abuser. The abuser will typically not pay attention if the victim does try to break the tension.
The abusive incident may be physical, emotional, sexual etc. It may include threatening behavior, harassment, breaking furniture/property or any number of abusive/violent acts.
The calm period, or what some refer to as the honeymoon, is when the abuser tries to make up for the abusive or violent behavior. He/she may apologize, promise that it will never happen again. They may cry, promise to go to counseling, promise to stop drinking – any number of these things, including giving gifts and generally being on his/her best behavior. The abuser realizes that he/she has crossed the line and he/she will say just about anything to keep the victim in the relationship. That is the goal of the honeymoon; to keep the victim in the relationship. The honeymoon is also called “recapture” because the abuser is doing whatever they can to keep the victim in the relationship.
How can I tell if I am being abused?
Sometimes it is difficult to know when you are being abused. Abuse is any behavior that is used to intimidate or control you. Abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and digital. The signs may look different for different people and it’s important to know that a victim is never at fault for any kind of abusive behaviors. You can visit the One Love Foundation website for more information on healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors.