HEALTH & WELLNESS: INTERPERSONAL VIOLENCE PREVENTION
Interpersonal violence is the intentional use of physical force or power - threatened or actual - against a person or community that results in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.
Interpersonal violence includes, but is not limited to, child abuse & neglect, dating violence, domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking, bullying, hazing, and elder abuse.
When someone experiences any type of interpersonal violence, the abuse directed at them may be physical, sexual, emotional & psychological, verbal, financial, legally or medically coercive, and/or technological (e.g. stalking someone through the use of digital devices or apps).
These acts can be committed by any person, and their motivation is to have power and control over another individual.
Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2021.
Below you can find definitions of the different types of interpersonal violence and abuse that may occur as a part of interpersonal violence.
- To understand these issues through a public health lens, we encourage referencing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] research on violence prevention.
- For a complete understanding of how the Texas A&M University System defines sexual harassment (including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking) in accordance with federal Title IX guidance, you may reference a glossary of terms through the Department of Civil Rights & Equity Investigations. The Department of Civil Rights and Equity Investigations has housed Title IX since 2019, and all allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation based on a protected class is codified under System Rule 08.01.01.
Child Abuse & Neglect: all types of abuse and neglect against a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial role (such as a religious leader, a coach, or a teacher) that results in harm, the potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. The most common types of abuse are physical, sexual, or emotional. Neglect refers to the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs: housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
Dating Violence: any act of violence, attempted violence, or threatened act of violence that occurs between individuals who are or have been involved in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature, including a sexual or dating relationship. Dating Abuse/Violence may also include any form of sexual assault, physical abuse of others, stalking, economic or emotional abuse, including behaviors that are intended to intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, or isolate someone. It may also include acts or threats against family members, friends, pets, or property (Texas A&M System Policy 08.01.01, 2021).
Domestic Violence: includes any act of threatened, attempted, or completed violence that occurs: (1) Between current or former spouses or intimate partners, (2) Between individuals who share a child in common, (3) Between individuals who are living with, or had lived with, each other as spouses or intimate partners, (4) By a person who is similarly situated to a spouse under the domestic or family violence laws that govern the jurisdiction where the violence & abuse occurred, (5) Any person, such as a parent, guardian, cohabitant, or spouse, who harms an adult or child, where the adult or child is protected from violence & abuse under domestic violence or family laws (e.g. child abuse, sibling abuse, incest, etc.). Domestic violence may include instances of sexual assault, stalking, physical abuse, economic or emotional abuse, including behaviors that are intended to intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, or isolate someone. It may also include acts or threats against family members, friends, pets, or property (Texas A&M System Policy 08.01.01, 2021).
Elder Abuse: an intentional act or failure to act that creates risk or actual harm to an older adult, age 60+. The abuse often occurs at the hands of a caregiver or person the elder trusts. The most common types of abuse are physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, and financial. Neglect refers to the failure to meet an older adult’s basic needs, including food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
Human Trafficking: human trafficking is a crime and public health concern that impacts individuals, families, and communities across generations. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 states, the territories of the United States, and the District of Columbia. There are two types of trafficking in persons (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021):
- Labor trafficking: individuals are compelled to work or provide services by being the targets of force, fraud, or coercion.
- Sex trafficking: Individuals are compelled to engage in commercial sex through the use of force, fraud, or coercion. When a person under 18 years old is induced to perform a commercial sex act, it is a crime regardless of whether there is any force, fraud, or coercion.
Sexual Assault: sexual activity when consent is not contained or freely given. Sexual Assault is any of the following acts (Texas A&M System Policy 08.01.01, 2021):
- Rape: penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent. Attempts to commit rape are also included in this definition.
- Fondling: intentionally touching of the private body parts of another person, over or under clothing, without their consent. It includes forcible touching of another person, forcing another person to touch someone else, or forcing someone to touch their own body.
- Incest: rape that occurs between persons who are related to each other, wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
Sexual Exploitation: Taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another for one’s own advantage or benefit, or to benefit or advantage anyone other than the one being exploited. For example, sexual exploitation could include such actions as secretly videotaping sexual activity, voyeurism, invasion of sexual privacy, exposing one’s genitals or anus or causing another to expose one’s genitals or anus, and knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection to another person (Texas A&M System Policy 08.01.01, 2021).
Sexual Harassment: unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe, persistent, or pervasive enough to create a work, educational, or campus living environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating or abusive. Sexual harassment may be quid pro quo (“this for that”) or may constitute a hostile environment. Sexual harassment includes non-consensual sexual contact, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, dating abuse/violence, and domestic abuse/violence when based on sex (Texas A&M System Policy 08.01.01, 2021).
Stalking: engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (1) fear for their safety or the safety of others or (2) suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking includes repeated, or at least two, direct or indirect actions. Examples include, but are not limited to, threats of harm to self, others, or property; pursuing or following; non-consensual communicated by any means; unwanted gifts; trespassing; surveillance or other types of observation. Stalking also includes cyberstalking through electronic media, like the internet, social networks, blogs, cell phones, text messages, or direct messages (Texas A&M System Policy 08.01.01, 2021).
Workplace Violence: an act or threat of violence, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assaults directed toward persons at work or on duty (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
Youth Violence: the intentional use of physical force or power to threaten or harm others, occurring among and between young people ages 10-24. This involves young people hurting peers who are unrelated to them and who they may or may not know well. Youth violence includes fighting, bullying, threats with weapons, gang-related violence, and hazing. A young person can be involved with youth violence as a victim, offender, or witness (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021).
Cultural Abuse: using aspects of a person’s cultural identity as a means of harm or control. This includes not letting someone observe the customs of their faith, using racial slurs, and threatening to out someone as LGBTQ+ if their friends or family do not know.
Emotional & Psychological Abuse: includes non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking. It also involves gaslighting, or making someone doubt their recollection or the truth of what happened in particular situations, and expressive aggression, or the use of demeaning language to diminish someone’s self-worth and sense of safety.
Financial Abuse: intentionally reducing someone’s access to financial resources. It includes controlling budgets or accounts, not letting someone have access to their own bank accounts or money, opening credit cards in someone’s name to run up debt, or not letting someone go to their job.
Legal Coercion: misusing the court system or laws to maintain power and control over someone. This includes filing frivolous lawsuits to make someone repeatedly come to court, an abuser exploiting family courts to file for sole custody of children they share with their spouse or partner, and using someone’s immigration status to keep them isolated within an abusive relationship (e.g. not providing proper information on immigration law pertaining to violence, threatening deportation).
Physical Abuse: any intentional, unwanted contact with you or something close to your body, or any behavior that causes or has the intention of causing you injury, disability, or death. It includes punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, physically restraining someone against their will, using a weapon, or in any other way making someone feel physically unsafe.
Sexual Abuse: any behavior that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually that they don’t want to do. It can involve rape or other forced sexual acts, withholding or using sex as a weapon, or criticism (they are not good enough at sex or it is the only thing they are good for).
Technological Abuse: The use of texting and social media to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate someone. This behavior is often a form of verbal or emotional abuse, conducted through online or digital spaces.
Healthy Relationships Spectrum
All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, with unhealthy somewhere in the middle. Each individual defines relationships in their own way, but in order for a relationship to be considered healthy, it must include open communication, clearly defined personal boundaries, and trust.
Definitions: Healthy, Unhealthy, and Abusive Relationships
Healthy Relationship: Individuals or partners make decisions together and can openly communicate concerns. They enjoy spending time together but can be happy when apart. When they disagree about something, they communicate in a proactive and non-combative way about how that behavior made them feel and come up with equitable solutions.
Unhealthy Relationship: Individuals or partners make decisions about the relationship without regard for each other. One person will try to control aspects of the relationship and fail to see how their behavior harms their partner; when confronted about the behavior, the response is usually combative or avoidant. There are feelings of guilt when partners in an unhealthy relationship spend time apart.
Abusive Relationship: Based on one person’s intentional and misplaced need to have complete power and control over someone else or other people. One person in the relationship makes all the decisions. Their partner is not able to provide their opinion, and when they do it is met with criticism, insults, jealousy, physical violence, and/or sexual violence. An abusive person also isolates their partner from friends and family, and makes them fearful about leaving the relationship or communicating with others about what's going on. Over time, abusers can manipulate their partner into complete social and/or financial dependence, making it difficult if not impossible to permanently leave the relationship.
Source: LoveIsRespect, National Domestic Violence Hotline, 2021.
Texas A&M University's definition of consent (System Rule 08.01.01):
Consent is defined by the Texas A&M University System (Rule 08.01.01) as clear, voluntary, and positive verbal and non-verbal agreement to engage is a specific sexual act.
Consent is a necessary part of healthy relationships. It requires active and ongoing communication, respect, and maturity.
- Important points regarding consent include:
- Consent to one act does not constitute consent to another act.
- Consent on a prior occasion does not constitute consent on a subsequent occasion.
- Consent to an act with one person does not constitute consent to an act with any other person.
- The existence of a prior or current relationship does not, in itself, constitute consent; even in the context of a relationship, there must be mutual consent.
- Consent can be withdrawn or modified at any time; the act must cease immediately once consent is withdrawn.
- Consent cannot be inferred from silence, passivity, or lack of resistance. Relying on nonverbal communication alone may result in a violation of this policy.
- A person must be 17 years of age or older to be able to consent to sexual activity if the other participant(s) involved are more than three (3) years of age older than that person.
- A person who is clearly or visibly incapacitated is not able to give consent to sexual activity.
Consent can often seem overwhelming and overly legal in terminology; it can also be perceived as too awkward to talk about. The reality is, consent is a big deal, but it's completely manageable for integrating into your everyday conversations. Consent is all about communication. Talk with your partners about what you're comfortable with, and listen to your partners.
There are four basic steps to helping someone who has experienced any kind of interpersonal violence:
- Offer to listen and provide emotional support. You do not have to have any answers or solutions. Just listening and providing affirmation of their experience is enough.
- Don't give them an ultimatum or judge their experience. They need to decide if and when they want help from formal resources.
- Certified advocates can help devise safety plans. If they are in immediate danger, we recommend staying with them while calling a confidential resource for guidance. If someone has experienced a physical or sexual assault, we recommend encouraging them to get medical treatment sooner rather than later.
- They know their own situation better than anyone. Your experience is not their experience. For a variety of reasons, someone who is harmed may not seek immediate assistance from resources. Your role as a supporter is to help them understand where resources are located and what they do. This will help them get comfortable with options and decide whether any of those services could help them in the moment.
Other tips to being a good supporter: Remember the 3 Rs.
- Recognize: "It takes strength and courage to share this information."
- Respond: "How can I best support you in this moment?"
- Refer: "Texas A&M offers resources on- and off-campus that can help you. May I share some of that information with you?"
Learn More About Prevention
Health Promotion offers several presentations covering topics of healthy relationships, consent, and violence prevention. These presentations can be requested for any setting at Texas A&M, including student organization meetings, department trainings, or to supplement class instruction.
You can also attend or request a Green Dot overview or workshop. Green Dot is a national, evidence-based violence prevention program and Texas A&M’s premier bystander intervention training. Complementary to Green Dot is the STAND Up Trauma-Informed Care training. STAND Up is a program created at Texas A&M that teaches individuals how to have trauma-informed conversations with those impacted by interpersonal violence. STAND Up can also be requested or anyone from our campus community can request an overview or workshop.
Looking for books, articles, podcasts, documentaries, resources, or national organizations to follow on social media that provide accurate and evidence-based information on the prevention of relationship violence, sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking? Visit our Health Promotion LibGuide, hosted by Texas A&M Libraries: tx.ag/BooksThatSpeakOut
Title IX at Texas A&M
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sexual harassment, sexual violence, and discrimination on the basis of sex.
The Department of Civil Rights and Equity Investigations (CREI) is charged with the investigation and resolution of alleged violations of Texas A&M University civil rights policies, including Title IX.
Texas A&M strongly encourages students to report incidents of sexual assault, sexual exploitation, or sex discrimination — including discrimination of the basis of gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation — in addition to sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, related retaliation, and stalking.
How Can You Make a Report?
- Make a report to University Title IX: https://titleix.tamu.edu/report/
- Employees, make a mandatory report to Title IX: https://titleix.tamu.edu/report/
- Make a report to law enforcement: https://titleix.tamu.edu/make-a-report/reporting-to-law-enforcement/
- Make an anonymous report: https://tellsomebody.tamu.edu/
Jennifer Smith, Title IX Coordinator and Assistant Vice President
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm
Location: YMCA Building, Suite 108.
Address: 365 Houston St., College Station, TX 77843-1268
Health Promotion and Student Life recognize that many people choose not to disclose their abuse for many reasons. Barriers to reporting can include fear of retaliation, feeling at fault or ashamed, inability to access resources, and fear of not being believed. We believe you, and we are here to support you.
Confidential resources are not required to report disclosures of interpersonal violence to law enforcement or the university, unless where required by law (known child abuse or elder abuse, threats of harm to others, or threats of self harm). If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. We then encourage you to subsequently seek trauma-informed safety planning from a confidential resource listed here.
Texas A&M Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) provides exceptional services and programming focused on student mental health. CAPS exists to advance student development and academic success by providing personalized and evidenced-based mental health care to Aggies.
» Phone: 979.845.4427
» Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
» Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
» Helpline: 979.845.2700, 4pm-8am (weekdays) and 24/7 (weekends) when classes are in session
Texas A&M Psychology Clinic. The TAMU Psychology Clinic is a not-for-profit training facility for the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program in the Department of Psychology at Texas A&M University. Clinic services are provided by graduate students who are completing advanced training under the direct supervision of the Clinical Psychology faculty.
» Phone: 979.845.8017
» Hours: 8am-6:30pm, Monday-Thursday; 8am-2:30pm, Friday
Baylor Scott & White Medical Center. The Sexual Assault and Violence Response Team and Child Protection Team at Baylor Scott & White Health provide compassionate, sensitive, timely care for victims of violent crimes, child abuse and neglect. The forensic nurse is available 24 hours a day for consultation. This is currently the only medical facility local to Bryan-College Station that can complete a full forensic exam with evidence collection.
» Phone: 979.207.0100
» Hours: 24/7
» Address: 700 Scott and White Dr, College Station, TX 77845
Texas A&M Student Health Services. Student Health Services exists to advance student development and academic success by providing personalized and evidence-based healthcare to Aggies.
» Phone: 979.458.8310
» Email: email@example.com
» Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
Sexual Assault Resource Center. The Sexual Assault Resource Center's (SARC's) mission is to end the cycle of violence in the Brazos Valley through education, empowerment, and advocacy. SARC provides 24/7 crisis counseling to survivors, their family members, and friends; free individual and group counseling services; and education & outreach services.
» 24/7 Hotline: 979.731.1000
» Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twin City Mission Domestic Violence Services. Twin City Mission’s Domestic Violence Program provides services to victims of domestic violence and dating violence in Brazos Valley. Services are provided at no cost and include shelter, counseling, case management, legal advocacy, safety planning, and career assistance. Victims and their children in need of emergency shelter are referred to Phoebe’s Home, a 24-hour emergency shelter providing nutritional meals, laundry facilities, daily needs (toiletries, clothing), transportation, and recreational activities for residents. Victims who are not seeking emergency shelter can receive nonresidential services in their county of residence at no cost.
» 24/7 Hotline: 979.775.5355
» Email: email@example.com
UnBound Bryan College Station. Unbound Bryan College Station supports survivors and resources our community to fight human trafficking in the Brazos Valley. Unbound was founded in 2012 through Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. Since then, Unbound has expanded into a network of chapters and anti-human trafficking projects around the world. Unbound provides 24/7 survivor advocacy referrals, free community trainings, and volunteer opportunities.
» 24/7 Hotline: 979.985.2430
» Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Non-confidential resources are required to take a report of disclosures of interpersonal violence. This is for the safety of the person or people impacted, and the greater community. A report protects privacy of the individual impacted and also results in referrals to case managers and advocates. A report does not automatically result in charges being filed or formal investigations occurring.
Civil Rights & Equity Investigations (Title IX). As outlined in Texas A&M System Policy 08.01.01, Texas A&M University does not tolerate acts of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation based on a protected class. The Department of Civil Rights and Equity Investigations is committed to protecting equal access to University programs, activities, and services by conducting fair, equitable, and thorough investigations and by supporting Texas A&M’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. Click here to report an incident.
» Phone: 979.458.8407
» Email: email@example.com
» Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
Texas A&M LGBTQ+ Pride Center. Strives to create a thriving environment supporting the success of every student through the education, advancement, and championing of the broad spectrum of sexual, affectional, and gender identities in the spirit of the Aggie Core Values.
» Phone: 979.862.8920
» Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
» Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
Texas A&M Student Assistance Services. Seeks to connect Texas A&M University students with the appropriate guidance, resources, and support to address a variety of personal and academic matters. Student Assistance Services can be a beginning point of contact for information or questions about a variety of topics, including: referrals and resource connections; concerning behavior follow-up; student welfare checks; student absence notifications; Silver Taps and student death; transition issues.
» Phone: 979.845.3113
» Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
University Police Department. The Victim Services program at the University Police Department aims to assist students, faculty and staff with the traumatizing consequences of being a victim of a crime, even if the crime occurred off campus. They also assist citizens and visitors of this community if they have been victimized while visiting the Texas A&M community. The current Victim Advocate is Jessica Laney.
» Phone: 979.458.9767
» Email: email@example.com
» Hours: 8am-5pm, Monday-Friday
» Emergencies, including immediate threats of harm: Call 911