Defining And Understanding Domestic Abuse In The Real World

After tonight's troublesome episode, MTV News spoke with an expert about the topic

Peter and Jennifer went from strangers to significant others rather quickly while living in the Real World. But during tonight's brand-new Bad Blood installment, the couple had a disturbing disagreement which set off a difficult chain of events with their roommate Anna and troubled the entire house.

It's important to take a step back and understand what unfolded, because the episode heavily focused on accusations of domestic abuse. Here's how it all began: Peter declared he "wanted to explode" when his girlfriend opted to spend solo time with his erstwhile hookup buddy and Katrina during a group night out. When the gang got home, Peter could not stop complaining about Jenn's actions and claimed she was intentionally behaving this way to anger him. He confronted her -- in her room while their fellow cohorts were trying to sleep -- and stated that he "loved her 1000 percent." However, he threatened to cease their romance and not live together post-Seattle if she continued to act the way she did earlier in the evening.

When Jenn tried to defend herself and then remove herself from the heated situation by walking away, it only made Peter more hostile, and he would not leave her alone.

"I don't understand why he gets so angry," she admitted during a separate interview, while footage from the incident showed him following her around the house. "I shut down, and that drives him even more crazy." When she pleaded with him to calm down, he balked.

"If you can't accept me for who I am right now, then I'm f*cking done and am not going to f*cking be with you," he exclaimed, while she made it clear she wanted to be with him. The rest of the crew could not get over how awful it was to overhear the yelling, and Anna (who was essentially at the center of the pair's disagreement) called security to intervene. But that only angered Peter more -- and efforts by Katrina to get him to stop lashing at her sister were ignored. And when Anna entered the fray, Peter reached his limit. Robbie ultimately got Peter to leave the situation, and that's how the altercation concluded.

Fast-forward to the following morning -- and Peter making up with Jenn over fresh flowers and pancakes (she accepted his apology) and Anna's desire to educate herself about what she thought may have occurred the night before. Anna googled domestic verbal abuse and left her search wide open on the house computer. Robbie discovered it and told everyone -- which only made matters worse and caused Jenn to confess to a past relationship that was abusive, while refuting that her bond with Peter didn't fall under this category.

However, no definition for what Anna was searching for was provided. Taking this into consideration -- and the entire incident as a whole -- MTV News interviewed Cameka Crawford from loveisrespect, project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

"Domestic abuse is a pattern of behavior one person uses to maintain power and control over an intimate partner," Crawford says. "It doesn’t look one way -- relationships can be very complex. Domestic violence can be physical, it can be sexual, it can be emotional, it can be verbal, it can be financial and it can be digital. You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner tries to control you, calls you names, insults or continually criticizes you, tries to isolate you from family/friends, monitors who you spend time with, accuses you of cheating and is often jealous of your outside relationships, demands to know where you are every minute, punishes you by withholding affection or blames you for being emotionally abusive," Crawford states, while also adding emotional abuse is a type of domestic abuse.

With that, there are several warning signs to look out for if you think you might be in the aforementioned situation and, according to Crawford, they include "showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away; insulting, demeaning or shaming you with put-downs; controlling who you see/where you go/what you do; and preventing you from making your own decisions."

"It doesn’t happen immediately or overnight," Crawford elaborates. "It can happen gradually. Relationships are based on love. You see this glimmer of the person you fell in love with, and it can create a sense of hope. You think, 'This person who I fell in love with is here -- if I could just do this or behave in this way, things will get better.'"

While Anna tried to be supportive, her efforts were not perceived in that way -- and Crawford gives some perspective on this element of the feud. "Watching someone you love go through an abusive relationship is hard," Crawford says. "It can be scary; you're not sure what way you can help. You may feel like you want to remove them from the situation, but that decision has to come from your loved one. Still, there are things you can do to help support them."

So how can you assist someone if you think they are in need? Here's some key pointers:

1) Listen patiently.

"You don't want to see your loved ones hurt. Your natural instinct is to come in and say, 'You have to do this now,'" Crawford says. "But using this type of language can be perceived as taking the control away from the person in the relationship."

2) Follow your friend's needs.

"Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of the decisions they make, because they really know the most about what's happening in the relationship," Crawford says.

3) Don't be afraid when you want to reach out.

"Let them know that you are concerned for their safety, but at the same time continue to respect their decision," Crawford suggests.

4) Help them recognize that abuse is not normal.

"One of the types of emotional abuse is blaming your partner for their actions, so the other partner can feel like, 'Well, if I didn't act like this, then my partner wouldn't treat me this way,'" Crawford notes.

It remains to be seen how the Real World group will proceed during their final days in Seattle. Be sure to watch how the season concludes on Wednesday at 10/9c on MTV. And if you are in any type of abusive situation, or think you might be, it's imperative that you understand that you are not on your own and help is available. If you are experiencing abuse or have questions about relationships, you can contact loveisrespect by visiting its website loveisrespect.org, texting loveis to 25222 (sponsored by Mary Kay) or calling 866-331-9474.