Interpersonal Violence | Western Technical College

Interpersonal Violence

How do I know if my relationship is violent?

Interpersonal violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in an intimate relationship. It occurs in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships and can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination of these.

It does not matter how long you have been in the relationship. Whether two weeks or two years, violence can and does still occur.

Girls and women between the ages of 16 to 24 are most likely to be abused in a dating relationship. While one usually thinks of abuse as meaning physical abuse, those in violent dating relationships are actually more likely to experience verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse or a combination of these.

Legal Definition of Domestic Violence in Wisconsin

*This information was taken from the Wisconsin State Statutes and is not in its entirety. The statute in full can be found at Wis. State. Sec. 813.12 Enter the statute number in the box on the left side of the page.

Domestic abuse means any of the following engaged or threatened to be engaged in by an adult against another adult living with or in a dating relationship with the person.

  1. Intentional infliction of physical pain, physical injury or illness.
  2. Intentional impairment of physical condition.
  3. First, Second or Third Degree Sexual Assault
  4. Whoever intentionally causes damage to any physical property of another without the person's consent.

Your relationship may become violent if your partner or person you are dating does, or has done, any of the following:

  1. A push for a quick involvement: Comes on very strong. An abuser pressures a person for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.
  2. Jealousy: Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly: prevents you from going to work because "you might meet someone;" checks the mileage on your car.
  3. Controlling: Interrogates you intensely (especially if you're late) about whom you talked to, and where you were; keeps all the money.
  4. Unrealistic expectations: Expects you to be the perfect person and meet his/her every need.
  5. Isolation: Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who are your supporters of "causing trouble."
  6. Blames others for problems and mistakes: The boss, it's always someone else's fault if anything goes wrong.
  7. Makes everyone else responsible for his/her feelings: The abuser says, "You make me angry instead of, "I am angry' or, "You're hurting me by not doing what I tell you."
  8. Hypersensitivity: Is easily insulted, claiming that his/her feelings are hurt when he/she is really mad.
  9. Cruelty to animals and to children: Kills or punishes animals brutally.
  10. "Playful" use of force during sex: Enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will during sex.
  11. Verbal abuse: Constantly criticizes you, or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things; degrades, curses, calls you ugly names.
  12. Sudden mood swings: Switches from sweetly loving to explosively violent in a matter of minutes or even more confusing, within seconds.
  13. Past battering: Admits hitting women/men in the past, but says they made him/her do it or the situation brought it on.
  14. Threats of violence: Makes statements like, "I'll break your neck," or "I'll kill you" and then dismisses them with, "Everybody talks that way," or "I didn't really mean it." If he/she has come this far, it is time to get help and get out!

(Adapted from Signs to Look for in a Battering Personality, from the Project for Victims of Family Violence. Fayetteville, Ark.)

There are a number of signs that can indicate a violent relationship. If the person you are with has done anything that made you feel scared, or unsafe, the relationship may be, or have the potential, to turn violent.

What to do if you are in a violent relationship

Arguing and disagreements are a normal part of any relationship but the use of violence, no matter how infrequent or slight, is not. Violence is not about losing control momentarily, it is about trying to gain power and control over their partner.

Some people believe that when a person is violent, whether physically or emotionally, it is because they cannot control their anger. However, abusers often only display their abusive behaviors in private and/or direct it solely at their partner. This means that the abuser actually controls their anger quite well, as they are able to keep the abuse a secret, making the person being abused feel like no one would believe them if they told.

Trust your instincts. You can take action; help is available. If you feel scared or unsafe, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Take threats seriously. Danger is often highest when the abuser talks about suicide or murder, or when the person being abused tries to leave or end the relationship.
  • Contact any of the on-or off-campus resources listed under Where to Get Help to find support, information on possible legal options, help to develop a safety plan, or referrals to other services that might be helpful.
  • Tell any friends, family, faculty, and staff who you trust and who will be supportive.
  • Talk with campus security about your situation and ask them to watch out for you, as well as security at your work. The number for campus security is 608-785-9191.

How to help someone experiencing violence

  • Listen. Show support. Don't blame them for what is happening to them. Tell them you are worried about them and ask how you can help.
  • Encourage them to seek help, and help them obtain information about available resources both on-and off-campus.
  • Don't tell the person what they “should” do and be patient. Those in abusive situations are already being told what to do by their abusers and are not allowed to make decisions on their own. Support their decisions on what to do.
  • Avoid confronting the abuser. It could be dangerous not just for you but for the person being abused.
  • Find someone you can talk to. Helping someone who is being abused can be frustrating and hard to understand. Being able to talk to someone else about the situation will make you a better source of support.

Reporting Options


If you fear for your immediate safety, contact 911 or Campus Security at 608-785-9191.

You can seek help & support from any of the following individuals AND make a formal anonymous campus report if you so choose by filling out the Confidential Report Form, printing the form, and handing it into the Student Life Office, Kumm Center, Room 100.

Making a formal report is NOT necessary in order to receive help. Reporting an incident does not mean you must go through campus judicial proceedings.

A formal campus report of an incident can be extremely helpful for the university in order to alert officials to incidents of violence and help create a safer campus environment.

  • Counseling Services, 608-785-9553, located in Student Success Center, Room 221​, 7th Street North
  • Leah Durnin Hoover, Student Life Coordinator, or 608-785-9446, located in the Coleman Center, Room 134, 304 6th Street North
  • Title IX Coordinator, Shelley McNeely, Dean of Students, or 608-785-9880, Student Life Office, Kumm Center Room 100, La Crosse campus

Students may also report abuse to any Western faculty or staff, including Resident Assistants, whom you trust.

The individual being abused may request that the Student Life Coordinator or Dean of Students work with other campus staff members to explore alternatives to adjust academic schedules and living arrangements in order to avoid contact with the abuser.

IMPORTANT: If a student or employee discloses that they were sexually assaulted on campus, you are required to contact the Student Life Coordinator or Dean of Students about the situation. You will not be required to disclose any identifying information nor will the person assaulted have to make any report. Contacting the Student Life Coordinator or Dean of Students about such incidents is important for keeping Cleary Act statistics which ultimately help to promote a safer campus.


Refer to Where to Get Help to see a list of off-campus resources to get help.

Contact the La Crosse Police Department to report abuse and to help keep yourself safe, 911 or 608-785-5962. Any of the on-or off-campus resources can assist in finding information about legal options such as filing a protective/harassment order.

Even if you do not plan on talking to anyone on campus about the incident, please print, fill out, and submit a confidential report form. This information will help Western Technical College obtain a more accurate picture of violence that is happening on and around campus.

Consequences for Offender

If reported to on-campus officials AND the person being abused chooses to have disciplinary action taken:

When determining the severity of consequences for those committing acts of violence against another student, the circumstances of each incidence are considered by the administration. Students who have committed acts of violence against other students violate the Code of Student Conduct outlined in the student handbook. Western may impose sanctions for violations of the Code of Student Conduct up to and including expulsion from Western.

If reported to off-campus officials AND the person being abused chooses to press charges:

Note: Although there are no laws in existence regarding specifically dating violence, one can still obtain a restraining/harassment order and the abuser can be charged with crimes related to domestic violence. Click for information regarding laws and statutes on domestic violence in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Mandatory Arrest Law

An arrest shall be made if probable cause exists to believe that:

  1. A person has committed or is committing domestic abuse, and the person's actions constitute the commission of a crime, and either or both of the following circumstances are present:
    1. The officer has a reasonable basis for believing that continued domestic abuse against the alleged victim is likely.
    2. There is evidence of physical injury to the alleged victim.
  2. An officer's decision as to whether or not to arrest may not be based on the consent of the victim to any subsequent prosecution, or on the relationship of the persons involved in the incident.
  3. An officer's decision not to arrest may not be based solely upon the absence of visible indications of injury or impairment.
  4. If a report of a domestic abuse incident and the alleged act of abuse occurred more than 28 days prior to the date reported, the officer is not mandated to arrest the alleged perpetrator.