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Abusive Dating Relationships

Physical and sexual violence in early adult relationships often starts during teenage dating when males and females form their first conclusions about what to expect and accept from each other. Very few adolescent victims seek professional help.

Abusive relationships often involve a pattern of repeated verbal, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse that escalates the longer the relationship continues. Some of the indicators of an abusive relationship are verbal abuse; isolation from friends and loved ones; fear of the partner’s temper; fear of abandonment by the partner; accepting the partner’s controlling behavior; fear of intimidation; the distortion of the partner’s hurtful behavior; assuming responsibility for the partner’s abusive behavior; feeling trapped; and fear of leaving the abusive partner. Some abusive relationships include behaviors that are in violation of University Regulations and/or state laws. When you become aware that a student is in an abusive relationship


  1. When possible, see the student in private.
  2. Be aware that the student may be feeling vulnerable and fearful.
  3. Be supportive of the student and aware that being a victim of an abusive relationship involves many psychological factors.
  4. Refer the student to the Women’s Services & Resources for information and consultation (801.422.4877).
  5. Refer the student to Counseling and Psychological Services (801.422.3035).
  6. If the student believes he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment or gender-based discrimination, they may file a complaint or grievance. For additional information related to this process, refer the student to the Dean of Student's office (the Title IX Coordinator), at 801.422.2130; the Equal Employment Office at 801.422.5895; Ethics Point at 888.238.1062 (24-hours).
  7. Be aware that interventions from numerous sources are the best approach to dealing with abusive relationships.
  8. Be aware that each intervention increases the probability of a student leaving an abusive relationship.
  9. Be aware that denial and distortion enable a person to remain in an abusive relationship.
  10. Encourage (but do not coerce) the student to call the police (801.422.2222), Women's Services & Resources (801.422.4877), and/or Dr. Melissa Jones in CAPS (801.422.3035) when rape or violence is involved.
  11. Consult with the police (801.422.2222) when concerned about the student’s safety.
  12. Encourage the student to connect with family, friends, or a support system.


  1. Ignore or minimize the situation.
  2. Pass judgement.
  3. Speak to the student in a derogatory manner.
  4. Lecture the student about his/her "poor judgment" or imply that they "should have known better."
  5. Try to force the student to leave the relationship.
  6. Coerce the individual to report the situation to authorities.