What is dating abuse?

Dating abuse (also known as dating violence, intimate partner violence, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of abusive behaviors -- usually a series of abusive behaviors over a course of time -- used to exert power and control over a dating partner.

 

Every relationship is different, but the things that unhealthy and abusive relationships have in common are issues of power and control. Violent words and actions are tools an abusive partner uses to gain and maintain power and control over their partner.

Any young person can experience dating abuse or unhealthy relationship behaviors, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, ethnicity, religion, or culture. It does not discriminate and can happen to anyone in any relationship, whether it’s one that is casual or serious.

 

Dating abuse is more common than you think. There are some warning signs that can help you identify if your relationship is unhealthy or abusive, including the examples below. Remember, the abuse is never your fault, and asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. 

Warning Signs

Being able to tell the difference between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships can be more difficult than you would think. No two relationships are the same, so what’s unhealthy in one relationship may be abusive in another. Although there are many signs to pay attention to in a relationship, look for these common warning signs of dating abuse:

  • Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission

  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity

  • Constant belittling or put-downs

  • Explosive temper

  • Isolation from family and friends

  • Making false accusations

  • Constant mood swings towards you

  • Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way

  • Possessiveness

  • Telling someone what they can and cannot do

  • Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex

What Does Dating Abuse Look Like?

Teens and young adults experience the same types of abuse as adults, including:

  • Physical Abuse: Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking, or using a weapon.

  • Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking.

  • Sexual Abuse: Any action that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion, or restricting access to birth control.

  • Digital Abuse: Use of technologies and/or social media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-dating partner such as demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyberbullying, non-consensual sexting, excessive or threatening texts or stalking on social media.

  • Stalking: Being repeatedly watched, followed, monitored, or harassed. Stalking can occur online or in person, and may or may not include giving unwanted gifts.

  • Financial Abuse: Exerting power and control over a partner through their finances, including taking or withholding money from a partner, or prohibiting a partner from earning, or spending their money.

Resources

Love Is Respect.org

The National Teen Dating Abuse 

Helpline is anonymous, confidential, and available 24 hours a day.

Call 1-866-331-9474 (1-866-331-8453 TTY)

Chat online anytime or text "loveis" to 77057

That's Not Cool.com

Designed to address problems between teens who are dating or hooking up-such as constant and controlling texting, pressuring for nude pictures, and breaking into someone's email or social networking page.

 

Breakthecycle.org

Great resource for figuring how to take action on dating violence. Teens can ask anything about their relationship.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

National Sexual Assault Hotline

1-800-656-4673

Live chat available on their website

Beacon Center

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801 Jenson SE/PO Box 781
Watertown, SD 57201

Crisis Line: 605-886-4300 / 1-800-660-8014

Business: 605-886-4304  Fax: 605-878-2045

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