Verbal abuse in dating relationships

Unfortunately, some people, while fulfilling these nurturing, positive needs of their partners at least some of the time and at least early in their relationship's development, also behave abusively, causing their partners (and often others as well) substantial emotional and/or physical pain and injury.

In extreme cases, abusive behavior ends in the death of one or both partners, and, sometimes, other people as well. Frequently, however, abuse continues or worsens once a relationship is over.

Socially isolating the victim increases the abuser's power over the victim, but it also protects the abuser. a course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated visual or physical proximity; nonconsensual communication; verbal, written, or implied threats; or a combination thereof that would cause fear in a reasonable person (with repeated meaning on two or more occasions)" (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000); and "the willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing of another person that threatens his or her safety" and "an abnormal or long term pattern of threat and harassment directed toward a specific individual" (Meloy & Gothard, 1995, pp. As a form of intimate partner abuse, stalking is frequently associated with separation or the end of a romantic relationship.

If the victim does not have contact with other people the perpetrator will not be as likely to have to deal with legal or social consequences for his behavior and the victim will not be as likely to get help, including help that may lead to an end to the relationship. However, some of the behaviors classified under the emotional abuse, economic abuse, and social isolation categories listed above that occur in both intact and ended relationships qualify as stalking behaviors as well.

This also could be considered a subcategory of emotional abuse since it serves many of the same functions as emotional abuse.

It can be distinguished by its focus on interfering with and destroying or impairing the victim's support network and making the victim entirely or largely dependent on the abusive partner for information, social interaction, and satisfying emotional needs.

Ideally such relationships are loving and supportive, protective of and safe for each member of the couple.

Sexual and non-sexual physical abuse also co-occur in many abusive relationships (Browne, 1987; Mahoney & Williams, 1998; Walker, 1984), and, as with emotional abuse, sexual and non-sexual abuse often are combined elements of a single abusive incident (Bergen, 1996; Browne, 1987; Finkelhor & Yllo, 1985; Russell, 1990; Walker, 1984).

As discussed by Tolman (1992), it may be somewhat artificial to separate emotional abuse from physical forms of abuse because physical forms of abuse also inflict emotional and psychological harm to victims, and both forms of abuse serve to establish dominance and control over another person.

NOTE: The behaviors listed in this category also can be directed toward people other than romantic partners and would fall under broader definitions of sexual assault, incest, and rape as well.

For more information on this topic, click here to view the Rape and Sexual Assault Overview article by Dean Kilpatrick or here to view Mary Koss’s article on Rape Prevalence, or see Patricia Mahoney’s article on Marital Rape or articles by Kim Slote and Carrie Cuthbert on intimate partner sexual assault across cultures in the International Perspectives section of this web site) Sexual abuse includes behaviors that fall under legal definitions of rape, plus physical assaults to the sexual parts of a person's body, and making sexual demands with which one's partner is uncomfortable (Marshall, 1992a; Shepard & Campbell, 1992).

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