Wellness U: Dating Abuse in College

Wellness U: Dating Abuse in College

Wellness U: Dating Abuse in College

College is a special time. It’s about discovery and growing into adulthood. It’s about pursuing your passions and carving a path for your future. Dating is likely to be part of the mix, too.

For many, dating may be casual fun. For others, it might be more serious. Either way, it should be a healthy experience. Sadly, sometimes, dating can take an ugly turn.

Nearly 43% of college women say they’ve experienced violence and abusive dating behavior. One in six report they’ve been sexually abused. Thinking about the dark side of dating isn’t romantic. Still, being informed is key to your safety and well-being.

Dating Abuse Takes Many Forms

Teens and young adults may experience one or more types of dating abuse.

Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping and other harmful physical contact.

Emotional and verbal abuse includes insults, threats, monitoring, stalking, humiliation and seclusion.

Digital abuse uses texting, social media and other technologies to harass, threaten, scare or guilt individuals into staying in a relationship.

Sexual abuse pressures or forces individuals into sex.

Protect Yourself from Abuse

Here are five ways you can help fend off the physical and emotional harms of dating abuse.

  1. Know the warning signs.
    Sometimes victims of abuse have a hard time seeing their relationship as abusive. Knowing the signs makes it easier to identify abuse and get help. Go to the National Domestic Violence Hotline leaving site icon to learn the warning signs of abuse.
  2. Save these helpline numbers in your phone contacts.
    The National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Dating Abuse Helpline offer anonymous and confidential help 24/7. They can be very helpful when you are away at school for the first time, cut off from friends and family.

If you need support, call the Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit www.ndvh.orgleaving site icon

To reach the Helpline,  call 1-866-331-9474, text “loveis” to 22522 or chat online at loveisrespect.orgleaving site icon

  1. Make a personal safety plan.
    Map out ways to escape an unsafe situation before it happens. With a safety plan, you can act quickly if you are ever in danger. To start, download Loveisrespect’s Safety Planning Guideleaving site icon Made for college students, the guide will help you know where to go on campus and who can help you feel safe.
  2. Take advantage of campus support.
    If you live in a dorm, your resident advisor (RA) might be a good person to go to if you feel unsafe in your dorm. Colleges often offer free counseling. They may connect you with local resources that specialize in abusive relationships. Your campus may have women’s, LGBTQ+ and sexual assault centers on campus that can lend support and guidance. Talk with local or campus police to report any episodes of violence.
  3. Reach out to victims.
    If you suspect a friend or roommate is being abused, be there for them. Loveisrespect leaving site icon offers tips on ways you can help a friend. Try to not judge them. Let them know you are worried and want to help.
Build Healthy Relationships

Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship. A good relationship is built on trust and honest communication. It respects each person and their boundaries. Both partners are supportive and willing to compromise.

Are you worried your relationship may be unhealthy? Take this quiz leaving site icon from Loveisrespect.

Sources: Domestic Violence Statistics, leaving site icon National Domestic Violence Hotline, 2023; Defining Domestic Violence in College Relationships, leaving site icon The Clarion, 2022; A College Student’s Guide to Safety Planning, leaving site icon Love is Respect, 2023; Is Your Relationship Healthy?, leaving site icon Love is Respect, 2023

Originally published 10/22/2015; Revised 2017, 2020, 2023