couple standing on the sidewalk

Understanding Dating Violence

Dating is exciting – there's no doubt about it. Dating can also be confusing, no matter how experienced you are. Sometimes it can be hard to recognize a good date or a good relationship versus an unhealthy one. If something doesn't feel right to you, it probably isn't.

If your boyfriend, girlfriend or partner ignores your boundaries or hurts you – physically, sexually, emotionally or even online – that's called dating violence or an abusive relationship, and it's never OK.

How abusive relationships start: Pushing boundaries, ignoring consent

How to talk to teens about healthy relationships.

Parents can teach teens how to have happy partnerships early – here’s how.

Many times, dating abuse begins with the would-be abuser testing the partner’s stated boundaries and ignoring their requests to stop. Unwanted teasing, excessive jealousy or possessiveness, and direct harassment are forms of emotional abuse and can set the stage for potential physical violence.

Despite what abusers may say, these boundary-pushing behaviors are not normal, and they are not a sign of love. Restating and enforcing your personal boundaries with a partner is not disrespectful or unloving behavior.

Basic respect and mutual consent form the basis of all healthy relationships, especially with romantic partners.

Types of relationship abuse

An abusive relationship is not just when a partner physically strikes you or threatens you. Here are the different ways abusers harm their partners.

Physical abuse add
Sexual abuse and date rape add
Emotional abuse add
Digital abuse add

Where to find help

Whether you're concerned about dating violence for yourself or someone you care about, help is available. If you are mistreated by your partner, don't be ashamed. It's not your fault, and you're not alone. Keep yourself safe while you get help and decide what to do. You can seek help from:

  • Friends
  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • School counselors
  • Trusted adults

Trained peer advocates are available by phone at 866-331-8453 or text "loveis" to 22522.

Teenagers can check out That's Not Cool for information, games and tools like the Respect Effect app that helps you take action to prevent teen dating violence.

You can also contact Military OneSource online or via phone at 800-342-9647 and talk to a consultant, who can refer you to someone who can help in your local community. OCONUS/International? Check out the calling options. Contact the Military Crisis Line at 800-273-8255, then press 1, or access online chat by texting 838255.