Sex and Relationships

Dating Abuse Comes In Many Forms

How To Identify Red Flags In Unhealthy Relationships

By Jessica Passione-Sanchez 

When thinking about abusive relationships the usual images may come to mind, a person covering their face while their significant other raises their hand to them in a fit of rage. Perhaps, the image of someone struggling to cover bruises on his or her body might flash through your mind. You’re correct to make that connection but these aren’t the only signs of an abusive relationship and physical abuse isn’t the only type of abuse in relationships anymore.

According to Breakthecycle, more than 57% of college students say they find dating abuse difficult to identify.

As they have done with everything else, technology and the Internet have made their way into dating. Yes, we have things like Tinder and Christian Mingle because of it but there is also a darker side to this: Digital dating abuse.

“One in three dating college students has given a dating partner their computer email, or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse,” according to Loveisrespect. “Digital dating abuse is the use of technology such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner.”

According to their website, the signs of digital dating abuse include a significant other telling you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook or other sites, pressuring you to send explicit video or sexts, constantly making you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you’ll be punished, looking through your phone frequently, checking your pictures, texts and outgoing calls, and stealing or insisting on being given your passwords.

Remember that allowing your partner access into any aspect of your life is a privilege that should be respected and never forced under any circumstances. Giving them the passwords to your phone or social media is not a sign of your trust in them but rather a sign of their lack of trust and respect for you.

“Dating Abuse” is actually a blanket term used to describe all the ways that a significant other can be abusive towards you or someone you know. Besides physical and digital dating abuse, emotional/verbal abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and stalking also fall under this category.

Emotional/verbal abuse does not leave physical scars or bruises but it can be just a detrimental to a person as physical abuse is.

There are a lot of behaviors that qualify as emotional/verbal abuse including but not limited to, calling you names and putting you down, preventing you from seeing or talking with friends or family, throwing things or punching walls, threatening to commit suicide if you try to leave, making you feel guilty or immature for not consenting to sex, or blaming you for their abusive behaviors.

Just because the pain cannot be seen it does not mean that it is not there or that it should be ignored.

Financial abuse can be the most subtle or noticeable form of abuse because signs of it vary. Examples of it include preventing you from going to work by taking your car or keys, giving you presents or paying for things and expecting you to somehow return the favor, getting you fired by harassing you, your employer or coworkers on the job, using their money to hold power over you if your financial situation is weaker than theirs, and forbidding you from working or limiting the hours that you do, among many others.

If someone waits outside your home or someplace you hang out at frequently, damages your home or other property, leaves unwanted items, gifts, or flowers, constantly calls you and hangs up, or uses social media to track you, you may be a victim of stalking.

Sexual abuse in relationships includes any type of action that leads to unwanted sexual contact. Just because you are in a relationship with someone does not mean that you do not have the right to say no to sex at any time. Examples of sexual abuse include unwanted rough or violent sex, keeping someone from protecting themselves from STIs, sexual contact with someone who is unconscious or very drugged/intoxicated, or rape and attempted rape.

Dating abuse comes in many shapes and forms. For further information on how to identify dating abuse and how to get help for yourself or someone you care about please visit Loveisrespect.org or Breakthecycle.org.

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