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Dating Violence

Woman Confronting Woman

Intimate partner violence (IPV) includes harmful and demeaning incidents that involve current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends. Women between the ages of 18 and 24 years old experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence. IPV is different from domestic abuse in that domestic violence also includes violence against family members. IPV involves only those in an intimate relationship or those who have shared an intimate relationship. Violent acts against your partner include psychological abuse, physical aggression, forced sexual intercourse, sexual coercion, isolating him or her from friends and family, and denying him or her access to information or assistance.

Younger adults and those new to dating are at a higher risk of engaging in violence against their partners. A history of violence within a family structure also can result in someone bringing violence into relationships. Being under the influence of a mood-altering substance, such as drugs and alcohol, significantly raises the risk of IPV. According to a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of those younger than 18 reported being physically abused by their partner.1

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE [7233]
National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE [4673]

IPV can have lifelong effects. You can suffer long-term psychological trauma, which can cause you to withdraw socially or lose the ability to trust another partner. The physical abuse can leave lifelong scars, broken bones, or even result in death. Once you’ve been exposed to dating violence, you are more likely to repeat the pattern and date other abusive partners or become aggressive yourself. If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, the quicker you or he or she ends the relationship and seeks help, the better. School counselors and personnel working at community centers, hospitals, and police stations are trained or have access to others who are trained in addressing IPV.

The first step in getting help and escaping from an abusive relationship is recognizing that there is a problem and telling someone. Keeping IPV to yourself will create an environment of mistreatment and abuse, reassure the abuser that he or she is in control, and keep you in harm’s way. There are also a few hotlines that you can contact, such as the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline (1-866-331-9474), the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE [7233]), and the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-HOPE [4673]).

When you or someone you know is ready to leave an abusive relationship, it is important to have a careful plan in order to increase safety. Sometimes abusers sense when their partner is preparing to leave the relationship and violence can intensify. When preparing to leave an abuser, you can use some of the following safety strategies from

  • Leave money and keys with a friend, neighbor, or relative, so you can leave quickly.
  • Keep copies of birth certificates, social security cards, bank statements, and other important documents with that same or another trusted person.
  • Leave extra clothing and other personal belongings with someone in case you have to leave in a hurry.
  • Open your own bank account.
  • Know that if you use your cell phone, the telephone bill will tell your abuser those numbers that were called after you left. Consider using a pay phone if you can find one, purchasing calling cards, or using a friend’s telephone.
  • Find someone who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you money.
  • Revise your safety plan every week or day until you are able to leave safely.
  • Rehearse your escape plan, if you can.

Restraining Order

By filing a report with your local police department, you can request a restraining order or order of protection. A restraining order makes it a crime for your abuser to come near you or have contact with you in any way. Although a restraining order cannot guarantee your safety, it will make authorities aware of your situation and allow them to intervene before a violent act occurs.

Depending on the state, if you are younger than 18 years, it may be difficult to apply for and obtain a restraining order without the consent of a parent or guardian. If you do not want your parents to know that you have been a victim of dating violence, contact a local counseling agency or victim advocacy group for assistance.

1 National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Drinking and Driving. New York, NY, 2012. Available:

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