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Student Health Services

Dating/Intimate Partner Violence

Dating violence is a pattern of controlling, abusive and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can happen in any intimate relationship. It can include verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or a combination.

Dating violence is also a form of intimate partner violence.

Dating/relationship violence or domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender and affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline and The United States Department of Justice describe the different forms of abuse below.

  • Fast Stats
    • 43 percent of college women report experiencing some violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, technological, verbal or controlling abuse.

    • 52 percent of college women report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, technological, verbal or controlling abuse.

    • More than half (57 percent) of college students who report having been in an abusive dating relationship said it occurred in college.

    • South Carolina ranks second in the nation for women killed by men according to the Violence Policy Center. Of the homicide victims who knew their offenders, 68 percent (26 victims) were murdered by a husband, common-law husband, ex-husband or boyfriend.

    • On average, 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of a year, that equals more than 10 million women and men.

    Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL.

    The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. (2015, March 10). Retrieved from URL.

  • Physical Abuse

    Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc., are types of physical abuse.

    You may be experiencing physical abuse if your partner has done or repeatedly does any of the following tactics of abuse:

    • Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you

    • Forbidding you from eating or sleeping

    • Damaging your property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)

    • Using weapons to threaten to hurt you, or actually hurting you with weapons

    • Trapping you in your home or keeps you from leaving

    • Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention

    • Harming your children

    • Abandoning you in unfamiliar places

    • Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them

    • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol, especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past2,3

  • Emotional Abuse

    Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive.

    You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if you partner exerts control through the following:

    • Calling you names, insulting you or continually criticizing you

    • Refusing to trust you and acting jealous or possessive

    • Trying to isolate you from family or friends

    • Monitoring where you go, who you call and who you spend time with

    • Demanding to know where you are every minute

    • Punishing you by withholding affection

    • Threatening to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets

    • Humiliating you in any way

    • Blaming you for the abuse

    • Gaslighting: an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power.  Once an abusive partner has broken down the victim’s ability to trust their own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship. (ex. “You’re crazy – that never happened,” “Are you sure? You tend to have a bad memory,” “It’s all in your head.”)  Learn More About Gaslighting

    • Accusing you of cheating and being often jealous of your outside relationships

    • Serially cheating on you and then blaming you for his or her behavior

    • Cheating on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatening to cheat again

    • Cheating to prove that they are more desired, worthy, etc., than you are

    • Attempting to control your appearance (what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.)

    • Telling you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them2,3

  • Sexual Abuse

    Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent is sexual abuse. 

    Sexually abusive methods of retaining power and control include an abusive partner

    • forcing you to dress in a sexual way;

    • insulting you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names;

    • forcing or manipulating you into to having sex or performing sexual acts;

    • holding you down during sex;

    • demanding sex when you’re sick, tired or after hurting you;

    • hurting you with weapons or objects during sex;

    • involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will;

    • ignoring your feelings regarding sex;

    • forcing you to watch pornography;

    • purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you.2,3

    Sexual Coercion

    Sexual coercion lies on the ‘continuum’ of sexually aggressive behavior.  It can vary from being egged on and persuaded, to being forced to have contact. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For example, an abusive partner

    • making you feel like you owe them (ex. because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift);

    • giving you drugs and alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions;

    • playing on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me,” “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else;”

    • reacting negatively with sadness, anger or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something;

    • continuing to pressure you after you say no;

    • making you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no;

    • trying to normalize their sexual expectations (ex. “I need it, I’m a man”).

    Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is coercion in itself. Dating someone, being in a relationship or being married never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.2,3

  • Reproductive Coercion

    Reproductive coercion is a form of power and control where one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive system. 

    Reproductive coercion can be exerted in many ways:

    • Refusing to use a condom or other type of birth control

    • Breaking or removing a condom during intercourse

    • Lying about their methods of birth control (ex. lying about having a vasectomy, lying about being on the pill)

    • Refusing to “pull out” if that is the agreed upon method of birth control

    • Forcing you to not use any birth control (ex. the pill, condom, shot, ring, etc.)

    • Removing birth control methods (ex. rings, IUDs, contraceptive patches)

    • Sabotaging birth control methods (ex. poking holes in condoms, tampering with pills or flushing them down the toilet)

    • Withholding finances needed to purchase birth control

    • Monitoring your menstrual cycles

    • Forcing pregnancy and not supporting your decision about when or if you want to have a child

    • Forcing you to get an abortion, or preventing you from getting one

    • Threatening you or acting violent if you don’t comply with their wishes to either end or continue a pregnancy

    • Continually keeping you pregnant (getting you pregnant again shortly after you give birth)

    Reproductive coercion can also come in the form of pressure, guilt and shame from an abusive partner. Some examples are if your abusive partner is constantly talking about having children or making you feel guilty for not having or wanting children with them, especially if you already have kids with someone else.2,3

  • Economic Abuse

    Economic or financial abuse is when an abusive partner extends their power and control into the area of finances.

    This abuse can take different forms, including an abusive partner

    • giving an allowance and closely watching how you spend it or demanding receipts for purchases;

    • placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it;

    • preventing you from viewing or having access to bank accounts;

    • forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work;

    • maxing out credit cards in your name without permission or not paying the bills on credit cards, which could ruin your credit score;

    • stealing money from you or your family and friends;

    • using funds from children’s savings accounts without your permission;

    • living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household;

    • making you give them your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns;

    • refusing to give you money to pay for necessities/shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, or medical care and medicine.2,3

  • Psychological Abuse

    Elements of psychological abuse include, but are not limited to,

    • causing fear by intimidation;

    • threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends;

    • destruction of pets and property;

    • forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.2,3

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Victims of abuse are NEVER at fault. There are many on- and off-campus support services and resources available to victims of dating/relationship violence and domestic violence. 

The National Center for Victims of Crime, Bulletins for Teens: Dating Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, Abuse Defined. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

The United States Department of Justice, Domestic Violence. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL

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