Identifying Violence

Quick Exit

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Sexual violence, dating violence, intimate partner violence, and family violence can be physical and non-physical.  
Violence exists on a spectrum and can worsen over time. 

Spotting red flags in people  

It's helpful for us to understand what red flags look like because that empowers us to intervene.

Anyone can use violence. At university this could be a close friend, someone in leadership and even people who appears friendly and charismatic.

There is no "type" of person who uses violence. However, research has identified some behaviours that are linked to sexual violence, these are1:  

Behaviour and examples

Always wanting things their way, even in sexual situations.

Making inappropriate jokes or comments about others.

Interrupting others and getting upset if they don't get what they want.

Quickly turning emotions into anger, blaming others.

Justifying violence between themselves and others, or violence between others, blaming victims, and making threats.

Sexual coercion 

This can happen before sexual harassment or assault. It means pressuring, tricking, or forcing someone into sex. Examples include making someone feel guilty for not engaging in sexual activity, getting them drunk, or threatening them.

Sexual coercion exists on a spectrum and can happen through non-physical ways, it can look like being outwardly disappointed or upset if someone says no to sex or making them feel guilty. 

Watch out for these statements, because they can be a sign that someone is being coercive: 

  • “If you don’t want to have sex with me then you obviously don’t love me”.
  • “You’re not mature enough to be with me if you don’t want to do this”. 
  • “You did this last weekend, why does it matter if you do it with me now?” 
  • “Well, I don’t know if I want to be in a relationship with you anymore if you don’t want to do this with me”. 
  • “If you don’t do this for me, I’m going to tell people about that thing you did”. 
  • “You’ve gotten me this far - I’m going to get blue balls if you stop now”. 

Sexual coercion can make you feel as though you owe sex to someone.  
You never owe anyone sex, and no one ever owes you sex.

Early warning signs of intimate partner violence  

What about if you’re worried about one of your friends? Maybe they’ve just started dating someone or they’ve been a relationship for a while.  

Here are examples of non-physical forms of dating and intimate partner violence and their warning signs:  

Warning signs

Early stage examples
  • Always insisting on their way.
  • Not respecting boundaries. 
Escalated examples
  • Telling someone what they can and can't do, where they can go, who they can see and how they can dress or act. 
  • Making someone tell you where they are going, or making someone report back in detail on what they did and who they saw.
  • Making the rules in the relationship and ensuring they oversee enforcing them. 
Early stage examples
  • Using jokes to criticise.
  • Not listening to others, or their partner when they are speaking. 
  • Accusing someone of not being able to take a joke.  
  • Not listening or responding when a partner talks to you.  
  • Love-bombing at the start of a relationship. (Love bombing refers to high amounts of attention, admiring and affection by one person towards another at the start of a relationship, to make the other person feel dependent and obliged to that person).
Escalated examples
  • Knowingly denying someone's memories or re-writing history (gaslighting).  
  • Blaming a partner for causing their violent behaviour. 
  • Telling someone they are crazy, not good enough, stupid, or that no one else would ever want them. 
Early stage examples
  • Giving someone the silent treatment.
Escalated examples 
  • Using verbal aggression or intimidation. 
  • Threatening to hurt themselves, someone else, a pet, or a loved one if you don't agree to do what they say.
Early stage examples
  • Getting annoyed or angry if someone spends money in a way that is different from how they would.  
  • Pressure to open a bank account together early on in a relationship.
Escalated examples 
  • Having control over someone else's money and bank account and only letting them spend money when they allow it.
  • Telling someone you don't trust them to manage their own money.  
Early stage examples
  • Asking in-depth questions about faith-based beliefs or practices and responding in a non-supportive way.  
Escalated examples 
  • Using hurtful stereotypes.  
  • Preventing someone from wearing their preferred clothing.  
Early stage examples
  • Getting annoyed or angry at someone when they spend some with their family or friends.  
Escalated examples 
  • Preventing someone from seeing any family or friends.  
  • Attempting to turn someone's family or friends against them.  
Early stage examples
  • Wanting to look through someone's phone to see who they have been messaging.  
Escalated examples 
  • Forcing someone to turn on their Snap-maps or Find My Friends so they always know where a partner is. 
  • Threatening to send nude pictures of your partner to someone's friends if they don't do what you want e.g., have sex, only work from home. 
Early stage examples
  • Insisting to know all the details about your doctor's appointment.   
Escalated examples 
  • Preventing someone from seeking medical care.  
  • Trying to manipulate someone into getting pregnant or having an abortion.  

If any of these things are happening to you, it's not okay. There are services that can help; reach out to support services if you need assistance.

If any of these behaviours are happening to you or a friend, we encourage you to reach out to the support services here.




Ignore no more identifying violence. Hands reaching out.