Intimate Partner

What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. Intimate partner violence, otherwise known as domestic violence, is a crime in California. The term "intimate partner violence" describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.

  • 1 out of 3 women murdered in the U.S. is killed by their husband or boyfriend
  • Intimate partner violence affects at least one out of every four American families.
  • Women ages 16 - 24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate partner violence

You may be a victim of intimate partner, if you ...

  • Are frightened by your partner's temper
  • Do things you don't want to or go along with your partner's wishes because you don't want to hurt your partner's feelings or are afraid they will get mad
  • Apologize to other people for your partner's behavior
  • Have been hit, kicked or shoved by your partner
  • Don't see friends or relatives because your partner doesn't want you to
  • Think it is your fault when your partner treats you badly or hurts you
  • Have excessive calls or texts from your partner wanting to know your whereabouts at all times
  • Alter the way you act, dress, or socialize because of your partner's excessive jealousy

There is help available

  • Your immediate safety is first. Try to go to a safe place.
    Reach out for support. You deserve it.
  • If you are an SSU student, contact the Counseling and Psychological Services Center for assistance and referral - 707-664-2153.
  • SSU students with illness or injury resulting from intimate partner violence or other circumstance should contact the Student Health Center  ( at 664-2921 for medical assistance.  
  • Anyone can also use the following link for a brief list of local after hours care resources: or contact their own off-campus  healthcare provider.
  • You can also contact these community organizations:
  • YWCA of Sonoma County
    707-546-1234. (crisis line)
  • Sonoma County Family Justice Center and Victim Services

Remember, intimate partner violence is a crime!

Report it to your local law enforcement. If you need assistance on campus, contact SSU Police Services at 707-664-4444.

Another Option: 

A student or employee who has experienced a campus-related intimate partner violence incident may file an informal or formal complaint with the SSU Title IX Coordinator, Tammy Kenber, Interim Title IX Coordinator, Human Resources to seek administrative assistance, investigation, and resolution. This is available, whether or not the victim chooses to report to Police or pursue a criminal complaint. Call Tammy Kenber at 707 664-3100.  For details, see Systemwide Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Against Students and Procedure for Handling Systemwide Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Against Students or Systemwide Complaint Procedure for Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Complaints for Employees

What to do if a friend is in an intimate partner violent relationship?

Many of us know, or think we might know, a person who is in an abusive relationship. But we can always come up with reasons to ignore our discomfort and hope the problem will solve itself. Here are some common reasons why people don't break the silence on intimate partner violence:

  • "I might get hurt...or make this worse for the victim."
    You do not need to physically intervene. And the only thing that can make this worse for the victim is for their torment to be ignored by those of us in a position to support them.
  • "If she/he wants to stay in such a lousy situation, that's her problem."
    Victims are trapped in intimate partner violence by a number of factors: deep fear, lack of financial support, love, loyalty, cultural and family values, and the depression and hopelessness that constant abuse can cause. Also, victims know that abuse doesn't stop just because they leave. In fact, the danger increases for many victims when they do leave. Imagining that a person is free to leave any time absolves us, but does not help them. Nobody can make the personal and painful decisions for them, but you can be there to support them.
  • "Poking my nose in will cost me their friendship...and they don’t seem to want to talk about it."
    Intimate partner violence could cost your friend their life. Talking about their situation isn't easy for either of you. They may fee shame and guilt, so you need to be tactful, open, and non-judgmental. They may not respond the first time. They have to decide what's safe and can't be rushed in to action. If they hear your open-ended offer to put them in contact with an intimate partner violence hotline when they choose, they'll feel safe coming back to you.

Here is an example of what to say.

It doesn't sound very dramatic, but it can make a dramatic difference: "I'm concerned about you. Are you okay? Do you want to talk to me about it? ... It's not your fault. You didn't deserve it ... I understand ... I'm not going to share this with anyone else. I'm not going to tell you what to do. What you do is fine with me. You know, there's a number to call to find out more about this. Do you want to call them now? Shall I give you the number? ... That's okay. Just know that I have the number, if you ever want it. I do care.

Are there things NOT to say?

It doesn't help to start planning a rescue or escape. Ask, rather than tell them what YOU think is going on. And don't start criticizing their partner, however much you may feel they deserve it. (The best way to show you are on their side is by staying out of the business of the relationship itself. If they were able to confront their abuser and leave, they would already have done it.) The idea is to gently break through the isolation they are living in and offer a bridge they can use when they choose to.