What is Dating Abuse?
Dating 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 and short-term or serious and monogamous.
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.