Wellness Center

Dating Abuse

  • More than half (60%) of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships.
  • Ninety percent of college women who are victims of rape or attempted rape know their assailant.
  • The attacker is usually a classmate, friend, boyfriend, ex-boyfriend or other acquaintance (in that order).
  • In one year, more than 13% of college women indicated they had been stalked, 42% by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
  • Almost 1 in 4 (22%) of all rape victims are between the usual college ages of 18-24.

Dating abuse takes many forms. It is defined as a pattern of physically, sexually, verbally and/or emotionally abusive behavior or privacy intrusions in a dating relationship. It ranges from punching, slapping, pushing and grabbing to rape and murder; from threats of violence, verbal attacks and other forms of intimidation to extreme jealousy, possessiveness and controlling behavior.

Dating abuse is designed to be isolating and controlling, taking different forms at different times and limited only by the energy, imagination and desperation of the abuser. Dating and domestic abuse are typically not one-time incidents, but a pattern of abusive behaviors over time that cause fear and/or harm. As the pattern continues, the abuser uses emotional manipulation and/or physical domination to gain control and power over his or her partner.

While the vast majority of abusers are male and most targets (also known as victims or survivors) are female, females can also be abusers and males can be targets of dating abuse. Abuse in relationships can be a difficult topic for anyone to talk about, especially young men. Because dating abuse has traditionally been considered a “woman’s issue,” many young men feel as if they have no positive, proactive way to help stop it – let alone ask for the help they might need as either the target or the abuser.

Dating abuse does not discriminate. It affects people of all races, religions, ages, cultures and sexual orientation. Dating abuse occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gendered students are just as much at risk for abuse in their relationships as anyone else. It affects people regardless of how much money they have or what neighborhood they live in.

Adapted from the Love Is Not Abuse Curriculum