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Domestic and Dating Violence

Dating and domestic violence can include physical, emotional or sexual abuse. If you or someone you know might be affected by dating or domestic violence, learn how to support a friend and recommend resources.

What is Domestic/Dating Violence?

Domestic/dating violence is a pattern of behavior in which one partner uses fear and intimidation to establish power and control over the other partner. This often includes the threat or use of violence. This abuse happens when one person believes they are entitled to control another. It may or may not include sexual assault, physical abuse, and emotional abuse.


Domestic/dating violence can occur in any relationship, including straight, gay or lesbian relationships. The relationship may or may not be intimate or involve romantic feelings. Intimate partner violence can happen with roommates, friends, classmates, or teammates. Relationship violence impacts people of all ethnicities, races, classes, abilities and nationalities.


Domestic/Dating Violence in College

Many times people hear domestic violence they imagine a couple hitting and screaming, leaving bruises or even a hospital visit. Typically, that is not what domestic and dating violence looks like on a college campus. Domestic/dating violence in college often escalates over time, and doesn't start with physical violence. 


Control is often the earliest indicator of a potentially volatile partner. This might include:

  • Asking to look through a partner's phone.
  • Obsessively needing to know what a partner is doing or who they are with.
  • Frequently checking their partner's social media.
  • Constantly texting or calling their partner.
  • Looking through a partner's private messages, emails, etc.

Another early indicator of dating/domestic violence is attempting to isolate their partner from other people. This might look like:

  • Getting upset or not allowing their partner to visit friends or family.
  • Causing fights or getting jealous when their partner hangs out with other people.

Many abusive partners use isolation as a control mechanism to make it feel harder to leave the relationship. This can be especially prevalent in college where many people are far away from home and family.


Other red flag warning signs that indicate a possible abusive partner include:

  • Wanting to move too quickly into the relationship.
  • Constantly flatters their partner early in the relationship.
  • Wants their partner all to themselves; insists that their partner stop spending time with their friends or family.
  • Insists their partner stops participating in hobbies or activities, asking them to quit school, or quit their job.
  • Does not honor their partner's boundaries.
  • Is excessively jealous and accuses their partner of being unfaithful.
  • Criticizes or puts their partner down.
  • Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others or their partner.
  • Has a history of abusing others.
  • Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on their former partner; for example, "my ex was totally crazy."
  • Taking advantage of their partner financially.
  • Acts differently around others compared to when their alone with their partner.

Relationship Green Flags

We encourage students to look out for "green flags" in their relationships. Green flags indicate that a partner will be respectful and participate in a healthy relationship.


Green flags include:

  • Respecting their partner's time, and how they chose to spend it.
  • Relationship moves at an appropriate pace.
  • Being respectful of their partner's boundaries.
  • Uplifting and supporting their partner by encouraging them to purse their hobbies, schooling, or career.
  • Handling conflict respectfully and without violence.
  • Being able to spend time away from each other and spend time with their friends and family.
  • Using consent and communicating during sexual activity.

Forms of Domestic/Dating Violence

Domestic/dating violence includes behaviors that are used to maintain fear, intimidation, and power over another person may include threats, economic abuse, sexual abuse or taking advantage of privilege. These behaviors may take the form of physical, sexual, emotional, and/or psychological violence.


While reading these definitions, imagine how they might look like on a college campus as opposed to what you see in movies or in the media.


Physical Violence

This includes physical attacks or aggressive behaviors that result in bruising, scratches, cuts, broken bones, and can even escalate to murder. It often begins with what is excused as trivial contacts, which escalate into more frequent and serious attacks. Physical abuse may include, but is not limited to, pushing, shoving, hitting, kicking, choking, restraining with force, or throwing things.


Sexual Abuse

Physical attacks are often accompanied by or culminates some type of sexual intercourse with the victim, or forcing their partner to take part in unwanted sexual activity. Sexual violence may include, but is not limited to: treating the victim and other people as objects via actions and remarks, using sexual names, insisting on dressing or not dressing in a certain ways, touching in ways that make a person uncomfortable, rape, or accusing the victim of sexual activity with others.


Emotional or Psychological Violence

Emotional or psychological abuse may include, but is not limited to, withholding approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment; ridiculing their partner's most valued beliefs, religion, race, or heritage; humiliating and criticizing their partner in public or private; or controlling their partner's actions and decisions. Friends and family might notice a decline in the victim's mental health.

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