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University Counseling Center

The Victim of an Abusive Dating Relationship

Facts about abusive relationships

  • Abusive relationships often involve a repeating pattern of verbal, sexual, emotional and physical abuse that increases over time.

Indicators of abusive relationships include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Fear of partner’s temper
  • Fear of intimidation
  • Acceptance of highly controlling behavior
  • Assuming responsibility for partner’s abusive behavior
  • Feeling trapped
  • Fear of leaving the relationship

What You Can do:

  • See the student in private
  • Recognize that the student may be fearful and vulnerable.
  • Remember that abusive relationships involve complex dynamics, including high levels of denial and, thus, are difficult to change.
  • Be aware that interventions from a variety of sources increase the chances for change.
  • Refer the student to the appropriate members of the community.
  • Encourage the student to connect with family and friends.


  • Downplay the situation.
  • Lecture the student about poor judgment.
  • Expect the student to make quick or make any changes.
  • Pressure the student to follow any particular course of action.

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