Dating & Domestic Violence & Abuse

abuse "Domestic violence," a term that used to apply mainly to married adults, is a growing problem among high school and college age students. Also called "intimate partner violence," (IPV) dating violence can take a variety of forms, but the relationship dynamics are the same as among older couples, and the motivation of the abuser is the same—to use fear and physical harm exert power over their partner. The abuser can be a partner or a former partner.

IPV affects millions of people, regardless of income, race, age, sexual orientation, or educational level. It is estimated that IPV is present in 25 percent of all relationships. The abuse can take a variety of forms—isolation of the partner and self-destructive behavior and physical, sexual, psychological/emotional, and economic abuse—and can range in severity from an occasional slap to repeated hitting.

Women ages 16 to 24 experience higher rates of intimate violence than any other age group—nearly sixteen out of every 1,000 women (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence). More than four in every ten incidents of domestic violence involves unmarried people (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence).

You may be in an abusive dating relationship if your partner:

  • Is jealous and possessive
  • Discourages or prevents you from having friends
  • Discourages or prevents you from engaging in activities outside the relationship
  • Imposes restrictions on how you dress
  • Pressures you for sex
  • Forces or intimidates you into having sex
  • Makes you account for your time
  • Insists on making all the decisions
  • Threatens you to get his or her way
  • Blames you for his or her shortcomings
  • Pushes, shoves, or slaps you
  • Does not take your opinions or needs seriously
  • Insults you in public
  • Won't accept breaking up
  • Threatens you with physical harm if you end the relationship
  • Threatens to commit suicide

Here's what a healthy dating relationship looks like

The central characteristic of a healthy relationship is equality. Partners are interested in getting to know each other, not in domination and control. Other signs of a healthy relationship:

  • Respect—an ability to communicate openly, willingness to listen
  • Non-violence—expressing anger without acting on it; choosing non-violence
  • Honesty and accountability—admitting mistakes, accepting responsibility for actions and their consequences
  • Trust and support—respecting partner's rights to their own feelings, interests, friends, and opinions
  • Reasonable sexual boundaries—making decisions about sex mutually, respecting choices about sexual activity, birth control, and personal appearance
  • Valuing partner's property—being considerate of partner's pets, belongings, money, and income
  • Fairness—sharing responsibility, willing to compromise
  • Non-threatening behavior—refraining from using threats and manipulation

(Source: Domestic Violence Center, Cleveland, Ohio)

It's not supposed to be this way…

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, you are strongly encouraged to seek help. Don't minimize what has happened to you. Dating violence follows a predictable pattern, known as "a cycle of violence." It might start with a little push, but can escalate to battering.

On-campus Resources

Any one of the campus resources listed below can offer support—both practical and emotional—and direct you to other resources. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 or 368-3333.

CWRU Police and Security Services 368-3333 (24 hours a day)
Flora Stone Mather Center for Women 368-0985  
Housing, Residence Life & Greek Life (North) 650-8949
(South) 650-8948
University Counseling Services 368-5872 844-8892 (after hours)
University Health Service 368-2450


Off-campus Resources

If you find yourself in an abusive dating relationship, in addition to feeling frightened, hurt, and disappointed, you may be feeling shame or embarrassment. You were expecting romance and companionship, not abuse and loneliness. If you do not feel comfortable, accessing on-campus resources, try these community agencies:

Domestic Violence Center & Hotline 391-HELP  
Family Violence Services (JFSA) 691-SAFE 24-hour hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE 800-787-3224 (TTY)
Westside Catholic Community Center 631-4741


For more general information, visit