What is Relationship Abuse?

Relationship abuse is not about love, it is a pattern of behavior about power; to gain and maintain control over you. It is the act or threat of abuse - physical, sexual, verbal or emotional -by one partner in a dating relationship toward the other partner. Any relationship that involves this type of abuse is unhealthy.

Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime if you don't have the proper resources. Dating violence often starts with teasing and name calling. These behaviors are often thought to be a "normal" part of a relationship. But these behaviors can lead to more serious violence like assault and rape.

There is different terminology that can be used to describe dating abuse:

  • Teen Dating Abuse
  • Relationship Abuse
  • Intimate Partner Violence
  • Relationship Violence
  • Dating Abuse
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Domestic Violence

Who is Affected?


Dating abuse affects people from all backgrounds and happens to teens, adults, as well as same sex relationships. It happens in the suburbs, the inner cities, to the wealthy, middle-class, and the poor. Dating abuse happens across different religious, racial, and educational backgrounds.

Who is affected?
You have the right to a violence free relationship...
Did you know?
  1. Each year approximately one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
  2. Approximately one in five adolescents reports being a victim of emotional abuse.
  3. Approximately one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  4. Dating violence among their peers is reported by 54% of high school students.
  5. One in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions which included hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and/or choking.
  6. Eighty percent of teens believe verbal abuse is a serious issue for their age group.
  7. Nearly 80% of girls who have been victims of physical abuse in their dating relationships continue to date the abuser.
  8. Nearly 20% of teen girls who have been in a relationship said that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.
  9. Nearly 70% of young women who have been raped knew their rapist; the perpetrator was or had been a boyfriend, friend, or casual acquaintance.
  10. The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners.

The following ten facts are from Choose Respect's "Get the Facts: Dating Abuse Statistics" and "About Choose Respect: Dating Abuse Fact Sheet".