Responding to Relationship Violence

What can I do if I think I'm in an abusive relationship?

1. Be aware of the resources available to you.

Know that you can access resources when you are ready and need them. Scheduling an appointment with CARE may help you gain a better understanding of these resources and your options as well.

2. Talk to someone you trust.

  • Let a friend or loved one know about what you are experiencing.
  • Confidential resources you can speak with are available on campus such as CAPS and advocates at CARE.

3. Make a safety plan.

If you decide to leave the relationship, develop a safety plan (with a CARE advocate if you choose). A safety plan can include asking a trusted friend for help, signing off social media, choosing a safe place to stay, and collecting money, emergency phone numbers, and a bag of clothes so you can leave quickly. You can find some information and safety planning tools later on this page.

4. Be gentle with yourself.

You know your relationship best and you can trust your feelings of danger. Still, all your feelings about the relationship are valid; allow yourself forgiveness and challenge feelings of self-blame.

5. Pursue a misconduct case.

You have the option of seeking an institutional hearing through UHAS, the University Hearing and Appeals System. CARE staff can give you additional insight and support for this process.

Safety Planning

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help you better avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you’re in danger. If you feel you are in danger due to relationship violence or stalking, whether or not you have reported to the police or Northwestern, a safety plan can be an important step. If you would like to learn more about safety planning or to get help creating one, please make an appointment with a CARE advocate.

Remember, abuse is never your fault, and staff at CARE and Northwestern are here to help you. There are other options such as a no contact order, residential accommodations, or other changes if you are interested.

General Tips

  • If you are concerned about being stalked or monitored, disconctinue checking in on social media. Be aware that a perpetrator can track computer and social media use.
  • As you are comfortable, communicate with friends or family where you will be. Think through who you will call if you feel unsafe. Consider developing a safe word with them if you feel it is necessary.
  • Consider emotional safety planning by creating a plan for if you feel triggered by an event or interaction with your partner that hurt you or made you feel unsafe.

Some Safety Planning Tools