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Dating/Domestic Violence FAQ

Dating/Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors between individuals who are or have been involved in an intimate relationship in which an individual inflicts emotional, financial, psychological, sexual and/or physical harm to his/her partner to assert power and control. Dating/Domestic violence is abuse within an intimate relationship regardless of marital status and does not depend on whether the couple lives together. It happens in heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Some behaviors within Dating/Domestic violence are considered criminal.

Dating/Domestic violence can seem sudden or may escalate over time. Actions or threats may include:

  • constantly insulting or putting down partner and/or humiliating partner in public or in front of loved ones
  • coercing or forcing partner to engage in unwanted or nonconsensual sexual acts
  • controlling partner’s movements or decisions and/or finances
  • threatening partner bodily harm or harm to loved ones or pets
  • using physical violence such as choking, pushing or hitting
  • stalking partner before, during or after the end of a relationship
  • continuous repeated attempts to communicate with partner via phone, emails, social media, Internet, etc.

Victims can experience more than one type of abusive behavior. The majority of women (66%) who experienced stalking also experienced physical violence by their intimate partner.1 Fifty-seven percent of the rapes experienced by college students happened on dates.2 This shows that sexual assault and/or stalking can sometimes be components of Dating/Domestic violence.

1 Katrina Baum et al., Stalking Victimization in the United States, (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2009).
2 Warshaw, R., (1994). I Never Called it Rape: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

What can you do if you or someone you know is a victim of Dating/Domestic violence?

* Please see the VA code § 18.2-57.2 for the legal definition of assault and battery against a family or household member and VA code § 18.2-57  for assault and battery against others to see which may apply to your situation. There may be additional codes that apply. Please contact law enforcement if are not sure whether or not what has happened to you is a crime.


  1. Mahoney, P., Williams, L. M., & West, C. M. (2001). Violence Against Women by Intimate Relationship Partners. In Sourcebook on Violence Against Women(p. 143). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
  2. Tjaden, P. and Thoennes, N. (1998). Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Study. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved fromhttps://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/169592.pdf 
  3. Warshaw, R. (1994). "I Never Called it Rape:" The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

For more information, contact NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) at 703.338.0834 (24 hrs) or nova.sas@nvcc.edu.

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