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Dating abuse can happen to anyone. So, what is it?

Dating abuse is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person intentionally uses against another in order to gain or maintain power and control in the relationship [source].

Forms of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological. It’s common in both teens and adults and it affects all genders, sexual identities, social and economic backgrounds, faith communities, races and cultures.

At Planned Parenthood of Delaware, we provide screenings for dating abuse in a safe and confidential setting during appointments. By educating about dating abuse and advocating against it, we are working to ensure that people are able to lead full and healthy lives, free from discrimination and violence while removing the shame and guilt that can accompany experiencing it.

Here are some ways dating abuse can manifest:

  • Pressuring you into sex
  • Threatening to out you as LGBTQ
  • Threatening to tell people your STD status
  • Sharing a private photo or video without your consent
  • Controlling what you do or who you talk to
  • Preventing you from making or getting to a doctor’s appointment
  • Not letting you get an abortion when you want one
  • Forcing you to get an abortion when you don’t want one
  • Not letting you use birth control and/or condoms
  • Lying about being on birth control or poking holes in the condom
  • Taking the condom off during intercourse without your knowledge or consent
Status Safety
  • Withholding their STI or HIV status
  • Refusing to get treated if they are positive
  • Preventing you from getting tested or treatment

“At Planned Parenthood, we see firsthand the horrific impact that intimate partner violence and restrictions to abortion access can have on women’s health and lives — and we work every day to combat them both,” said Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (2006-2018).

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, in addition to your local Planned Parenthood health center, you can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline for trusted, anonymous online and phone advice – 800.799.SAFE (7233). If you want to end an abusive relationship, they can also help you develop a safety plan.


April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month and STI Awareness Month.

Tags: Abortion, cisgender, dating, dating abuse, dating violence, intimate partner violence, LGBTQ