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Dating Violence

Advocacy Services > Dating Violence

It is not your fault.

It is not your fault.

Defining Intimate Partner Violence (Dating Violence) & Domestic Violence

Intimate partner violence, otherwise known as dating violenceas defined by VCU's policy, are acts of violence, threat or intimidation that harm or injure a partner in a current or former intimate relationship (defined below).  These acts may be physical, emotional/psychological, sexual or economic in nature.  Intimate relationship violence can be a single act or pattern of behavior.  Intimate Partner Violence includes “dating violence” and “domestic violence.” The university will evaluate the existence of an intimate relationship based upon the Complainant’s statement and taking into consideration the length of the relationship, the type of relationship and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

VCU’s policy defines domestic violence as a particular type of intimate relationship violence that occurs when partners in a current or former intimate relationship are or have been cohabiting in the same space or have a child in common.  Students are deemed to be cohabiting when they share access to the same private living space or bathroom. Stalking may be one way to have power and control over a dating partner.  Stalking in the context of intimate relationships is a course of conduct (i.e., more than one act) directed at a partner that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, to experience emotional distress or to fear for the safety of a third person.  Acts that together constitute stalking may be direct actions or may be communicated by a third party, and can include, but are not limited to:  threats of harm to self or others; pursuing or following; non‐consensual (unwanted) communication by any means; unwanted gifts; trespassing; and surveillance or other types of observation.

In Virginia, a person commits family abuse (also called domestic violence) by committing any act against a family or household member that involves violence, force, or threats, and results in physical injury or places the family or household member in fear or injury or harm. Both stalking and sexual assault can constitute family abuse. Family and household members include spouses, former spouses, parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, in-laws who live in the same house, people who have children together, and people who live together or have lived together in the past year. 

Dating violence & domestic violence can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination. Abusive relationships may seem healthy and happy at first, with the partner exhibiting more controlling behaviors over time.  Some "red flags" for abuse include a partner who:

  • Tries to isolate you and control whom you see or where you go.
  • Blames you for how they treat you, or for anything bad that happens.
  • Abuses siblings, other family members, children or pets.
  • Puts down people, including your family and friends, or call them names.
  • Is always angry at someone or something.
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs.
  • Has a history of trouble with the law, get into fights, or breaks and destroys property.
  • Doesn’t work or go to school.

The abuse you experience may vary, but can include:

Physical Violence: A person is exerting control over another person through the use of physical force.  Examples of physical violence include hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, restraining, choking, strangulation and brandishing or using any weapon.

Threats: Are words or actions that would compel a reasonable person to engage in unwanted sexual activity.  Examples include threats to harm a person physically, to reveal private information to harm a person’s reputation or to cause a person academic or economic harm

Intimidation: Is an implied threat that menaces or causes reasonable fear in another person.  A person’s size, alone, does not constitute intimidation; however, a person can use their size or physical power in a manner that constitutes intimidation (for example, by blocking access to an exit).

Coercion: Is the use of an unreasonable amount of pressure to gain sexual access.  Coercion is more than an effort to persuade, entice or attract another person to have sex.  When a person makes clear that they do not want to participate in a particular form of sexual contact or sexual intercourse, that they want to stop or that they do not want to go beyond a certain sexual interaction, continued pressure can be coercive.  In evaluating whether coercion was used, the frequency of the application of the pressure, the intensity of the pressure, the degree of isolation of the person being pressured and the duration of the pressure are all relevant factors. 

Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, or treating one in a sexually demeaning manner.

Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one's abilities, name-calling, or damaging one's relationship with children.

Economic Abuse: Is defined as making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one's access to money, or forbidding one's attendance at school or employment. This is a link to a resource for additional information about gaining financial management skills

Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include - but are not limited to - causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; spreading rumors and/or threatening to “out” partner’s gender identity or sexual orientation; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work. 

Shocking Statistics

  • Over 1 in 6 bisexual women, 4 in 10 lesbian women, and 1 in 3 heterosexual women experienced intimate partner violence at least once in their lifetime.[1]
  • Nearly 4 in 10 bisexual men, 1 in 4 gay men,  and more than 1 in 4 heterosexual men has experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.[2]

Although dating and/or domestic violence can affect persons of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, women of color experience dating and domestic violence at higher rates and experience additional challenges.

Please remember this is not your fault and how you feel is normal. There are people on & off campus that are here to support you.

For assistance, contact The Well at 804-828-9355 or to speak with an advocate and/or schedule an appointment. If you have a disability and need additional accommodation, we will do our best to provide the service necessary.

If you need assistance after standard business hours (8:00 am - 4:30 pm Monday - Thursday and 10:30 am - 4:30 pm Friday), call the 24/7 Richmond Regional Hotline at: 804-612-6126.

You may also phone VCU Police at: 804-828-1234 and ask to be connected with a 24 hour on-call VCU Counseling Services therapist.