Wellness “U”: Dating Abuse in College

Wellness “U”: Dating Abuse in College

Wellness “U”: Dating Abuse in College

Dating in college can be fun and exciting. But not always. According to Loveisrespect,   43% of dating college women said they have experienced violence and abusive dating behavior. And one in six of college women have been sexually abused while dating someone.

Thinking about the dark side of relationships might not be romantic. But being informed about dating abuse is key to your health and safety.

Types of Dating Abuse
Dating abuse can take many forms. Teens and young adults can go through these kinds of dating abuse in their relationships:

  1. Physical abuse – physical contact that is used to scare or hurt you
  2. Emotional/verbal abuse – non-physical actions such as insults, threats, constant monitoring, stalking, humiliation or seclusion
  3. Digital abuse – use of texting, social media or other technologies to harass, threaten or even scare or guilt you into staying in a relationship you aren’t happy with
  4. Sexual abuse – actions that pressure or force to you do something sexually that you don’t want to do

What Can You Do
If you or someone you know has experienced dating abuse, here's what you can do:

  • Identify abuse in your relationships or in other’s
  • Know where to go if you need help
  • Reach out to a friend if you think they are in a harmful relationship 

1. Know the warning signs
Sometimes victims of abuse have a hard time seeing their relationship as abusive. This is especially true if their partner is emotionally and verbally abusive. Knowing the signs of abuse will make it easier to both identify abuse and seek help for yourself or a friend. Check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline   and Loveisrepect   to get familiar with the warning signs of abuse.

2. Call or text the National Domestic Violence Hotline/National Dating Abuse Helpline
The National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Dating Abuse Helpline both offer anonymous and confidential help 24/7. These resources can be very helpful when you are away at school for the first time, cut off from your friends and family from home. If you need support or are worried about somebody else call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit www.ndvh.org  for the Hotline, or call 1-866-331-9474, text “loveis” to 22522 or chat online at loveisrespect.org  for the Helpline.

3. Make a personal safety plan
If you are in an abusive relationship, consider making a safety plan. A safety plan will get you thinking about how you might get away from an unsafe situation and help you make fast, safe choices if you are in danger. If you are unsure of where to get started, you can download Loveisrespect’s Safety Planning Guide made for college students. This guide will help you plan where to go on campus to feel safe and who can help.

4. Take advantage of campus support
At school, you should have a number of safety resources. If you live in a dorm, your resident advisor (RA) might be a good person to go to if you are worried about your safety in the dorm. Colleges often give you free sessions with a counselor , and they can get you in touch with local resources that specialize in abusive relationships. Also, there may be women’s, LGBTQ and sexual assault centers on campus that can give support and guidance. You may talk with local or campus police to report violence.

5. Reach out to the victim
If you suspect that a friend or roommate is being abused, the most important thing you can do is to be there for them. Loveisrespect  has a number of tips on how you can help a friend. Try to not judging or condemn the person for staying in the relationship. Let them know that you are worried and can help them if they ask.

Healthy Relationships
Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship. A healthy relationship consists of open communication, respect, boundaries, support, trust and compromise.

If you are unsure of whether you are in a healthy relationship take this quiz  from Loveisrespect.

Originally published October 22, 2015; Revised 2017, 2020