Intimate Partner Abuse

"My partner is hurting me."

General Information

Intimate partner violence occurs in a relationship that is or has been intimate. There is a pattern of one person inflicting emotional or physical pain on another in order to control them.

The people involved could be involved romantically, boyfriend, girlfriend, past or present, partners, spouses, or co-parents of a child. People of any gender or sexual orientation can end up in a destructive relationship.

It can be hard to look at relationships and ask, “What crosses the line?”

One person feels

  • constantly put down or criticized by their partner.
  • sad, worried and stressed out about their relationship.
  • that they are giving up things that are important to them like school, family or friendships because of their relationship.
  • often worried about their partner’s anger.
  • scared of their partner’s unpredictability.
  • that they are scanning for when the next eruption of anger will come.
  • embarrassed for people to know how their partner treats them.

Their partner

  • wants to make all the decisions.
  • tries to control what their partner does, how they look, who they see and talk with.
  • reads their partner’s email,calls their partner frequently, checks up on their partner.
  • manipulates with threats, insults, guilt.
  • prevents their partner from working, studying or socializing.
  • uses money to control their partner.
  • threatens to hurt their partner, loved ones or themselves.
  • keeps close track of where their partner is at all times.
  • forces their partner into sexual activity the partner doesn’t want.
  • destroys personal property, threatens pets.
  • pushes, shoves, slaps, hits their partner.

What to Do

Practical Information

If you feel that you are in an unsafe situation there are some things you can do. If you have a feeling that you are about to be harmed change your location and give yourself some space to consult with friends or community resources or call 911. During business hours you can contact the Office of Victim Assistance (OVA) at 303-492-8855. You can also speak with a person 24 hours a day by calling the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence hotline at 303-444-2424.

You may need help thinking through safety, medical, support, academic and reporting issues. You might also need a place to talk about what you feel and think about what is going on as well as to get information about how to assess the situation.

Medical Concerns

Your health is important. If you have injuries from physical assaults or unwanted sexual activity, please consider getting medical attention. Be aware that if medical providers believe that your injuries are related to intimate partner violence they are obligated to report to the police. OVA or Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence can discuss these issues with you confidentially.


If you are concerned about your relationship, it may be helpful to talk with someone outside the situation. OVA or Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence 24-hour hotline may be helpful.

Friends and family may have useful perspectives on your relationship; sometimes when relationships become damaging it’s hard for the person in the situation to see. If people tell you that you seem sad, angry or scared, you are doing less, you have lost touch with friends, family, or community, it might be worth considering whether your relationship is a factor. However, nobody can tell you what your experience is, and it often takes time for people to decide what to do in a complicated situation.

Sometimes people in an emotionally or physically violent relationship hide the violence from people who care about them. If you’ve been hiding some aspect of your relationship, ask yourself why.

If you think your relationship may have some of these significant problems, you may be confused about where to find information and support. You may be worried that if you talk to someone, you’ll be judged, told what to do or labeled. If you start a conversation with someone and find these things are happening it is okay to seek out another source of support and information. If you would like free, confidential help sorting out your options, you can call the Office of Victim Assistance at CU 303-492-8855, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence at 303-444-2424 or Survivors Organizing for Liberation 303-852-5094 or 1-888-557-4441.

When you seek help from professionals, first ask what their confidentiality is, and who they are required to tell if you were to disclose intimate partner violence. That way, you can make an informed decision.

Some things you might discuss:

  • figuring out what you feel and think about what’s going on.
  • getting information that will help you assesses the situation, and figure out what you want.
  • talking about how to manage your academics, or work given your relationship.
  • talking about making a safety plan. There are many strategies available.
  • getting medical treatment if you have injuries or are worried about your health.
  • changing where you live to get some space, or safety. There is community help with this.
  • reporting to the police or the CU Office of Student Conduct or Office of Discrimination and Harassment if appropriate.

If you are not ready to talk to somebody but want to get more information about your situation, the web is a great place to do that. If you are concerned your partner may be monitoring your computer, you should know that most computers keep track of websites you visit. There is a lot of useful information on the web, and it might be best to seek these resources on a public computer such as at a lab on campus, a public library or at a friend’s house.

If you’d like to know more about how people sometimes react to these kinds of events, click here.


If you your current housing situation is no longer safe or comfortable, for whatever reason, OVA can discuss options for a change of housing.


Sometimes experiencing intimate partner violence can compromise concentration, ability to focus on school, or feeling able to get to class. If you are worried about how this situation may be impacting your schoolwork, that’s important to notice. You deserve to be in school and to meet your goals. OVA can discuss options for managing academic issues while maintaining privacy. There are concrete things the University can do to help with your situation.

Protective Orders

A protective order is a legal document obtained through the courts that puts restrictions on individuals who may be dangerous to you. If they violate these restrictions they can be sanctioned by the court.

If you have questions about obtaining a protective order you can talk to an advocate in OVA or call the Boulder Protective Order clinic at 303-441-4867 or, if there is no answer, call Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence at 303-449-8623. You can also learn more online at Depending on the situation, campus authorities may be able to offer an exclusion of individuals responsible for certain kinds of incidents. To learn more, consult OVA or UCPD.

Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non-Violence offers a protective order clinic at the Boulder County Justice Center. For more information contact 303-449-8623.

Depending on the situation campus authorities may be able to exclude the person who committed the assault from campus or parts of campus. To learn more consult OVA or UCPD.


For content specific information about reporting see below. For general information about reporting and the possibilities and limits of working with systems click here.


If you want to report and get some help setting limits with a partner, the criminal justice system is an option. If you call the police, Colorado has a mandatory arrest policy for intimate partner violence, so if the police believe a crime has been committed, an arrest is likely. OVA, Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence or the Colorado Anti-Violence Program can talk with you about the pros and cons of getting into the criminal justice system. We can discuss the system and direct you to resources if you become involved.

If you or a bystander decide to report to law enforcement, the police are required to investigate. If the police have “probable cause” (meaning that they have reason to believe a crime of intimate partner violence has been committed), they are required to arrest the person they think is the “predominant aggressor” and remove that person from where the arrest happened and take the person to jail. The jail is required to notify you when the arrested person is released. If you think it might be hard for the jail to find you, call them at 303-441-4650 and let them know the best way to reach you.

Once the arrest happens, the DA’s office will decide what to do with the case. If the DA decides to move forward with the case and you would like to a tell the DA your perspective or get more information about the system, call the DA victim/witness program at 303-441-3700 or OVA 303-492-8855 or Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence at 303-444-2424.

Reporting to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance

If you have experienced intimate partner abuse from a CU student: Intimate partner abuse violates the student code of conduct. The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance investigates reported intimate partner abuse under the Discrimination and Harassment policy and Student Code of Conduct. If the CU student is found responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct they will be sanctioned through the Office of Student Conduct. If you would like to know more about the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance process, you can contact OVA or the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance, or look at their website.

If you experienced intimate partner abuse by a faculty or staff member, you may want to consider reporting to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance investigates university policy infractions and may have jurisdiction over your situation. You can learn more at:

The Office of Institutional equity and Compliance can provide another avenue for reporting and may be able assist with an informal solution. The Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance process is different from criminal or civil processes. You typically can choose one or both but because this is an intimate partner violence situation, a report to the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance may move your case through the criminal justice system. You can contact the Office of Institutional equity and Compliance anonymously to get a better understanding of how they might handle your situation, or OVA can help you with getting that assessment.

To learn more about the filing guidelines and process go to:


Confidential Reporting

If you do not want to or have not yet decided whether to report officially, you can still inform a confidential resource of intimate partner violence you may have experienced or witnessed. Completing this form does not constitute a report to the University and will not initiate any law enforcement, judicial or administrative action.

This information goes to a confidential office, the Office of Victim Assistance and will not be shared except in aggregate, non-identifiable form. OVA can help you with support, information and referrals.

For Confidential Reporting, click here.

How to Help

Sometimes people in a difficult situation find it hard to assess their options, or even know where to begin. Friends, family and significant others can offer to listen, or do some of the basic footwork about what resources exist.

You might notice the person taking responsibility for the situation or feeling protective of the individual who hurt them. They may seem tired and withdrawn, angry and irritable, or oddly energetic and outgoing. Let the person know what you notice about their behavior and express your concern. Consider referring them to a confidential and supportive resource like OVA.

How to help a friend who might be in a harmful relationship:

  • If you are worried about your friend’s relationship you can talk with him or her about what you see.
  • Be specific--don’t put down their partner’s whole personality. Say “when so-and-so insulted you in front of all of us, I got worried.”
  • Be willing to listen-- your friend may be confused about the relationship, some parts may be good, some parts may be hard.
  • If your friend isn’t ready to talk, don’t push, but say you’re available when she/he is ready. If after a while you are still concerned, follow up gently.
  • Don’t tell them what to do. You can find out what the options are, but don’t try to take control of the situation.
  • Don’t say “why are you putting up with this?” or “If I were you…” These questions imply that the situation is easy and the answer is clear. This can feel insulting to your friend, who may be struggling with complexities you don’t see.
  • Do acknowledge your friends situation, without trying to solve it for them.
  • If you have been in a similar situation your experience may help. Your friend’s reaction may differ, and their choices may differ, but knowing that they aren’t alone can be helpful in itself.
  • If you haven’t been in a similar situation, you can listen, and then learn more about how a harmful relationships impact people (see links below).
  • Talk with informed resources that can give you information and talk through the issues. It can be hard to see someone you care about in this type of relationship especially if they seem to go back and forth a lot.

For more information on how to help please click here.

How to help a friend who might be harming someone

  • Be specific:“I respect you, but it worries me to see you do [the concerning behavior].”
  • Take a stand: “I don’t want to watch you hurting yourself and other people.”
  • Don’t shame the person. You care about this person, and want the behavior to stop. If you didn’t think this person had it within them to be decent, you probably wouldn’t be hanging out with them.
  • Let them know where they can get help.
  • Talk with OVA or Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence about what you’re seeing. They can give you information and specific referrals.
  • At some point you may decide that you no longer want to be friends with this person.