Skip to main content Skip to site navigation

What are the distinct dynamics of dating abuse?

Blog post

Because dating abuse occurs in a relationship characterized by romantic or intimate feelings, there are dynamics that are distinct from other forms of violence.

These distinctive aspects of dating abuse make it one of the most confusing and overlooked forms of violence.

  • Many young victims and caring adults do not recognize warning signs of dating abuse and confuse controlling and even aggressive behavior as a normal part of a relationship, or even a sign of care. 
  • Fear, shame, denial and confusion often discourage victims from recognizing abuse or seeking help. 
  • When victims do seek help, adults often normalize harmful behaviors, minimize the impact, and fail to recognize the potential for escalating harm.
  • As was (and is still sometimes) the case with adult domestic violence, dating abuse is often invisible to family members, and considered a “private matter” or “nobody’s business” by friends and other caring adults.
  • Without intervention, there is a likelihood of increasing frequency and severity of abuse over time.
  • There is a heightened risk for physical violence during or after a break up.