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What is Abuse?

Abuse happens between people of varying ages, gender identities, and backgrounds. Often, abuse occurs when one person harms another person in an intimate relationship – like a dating relationship, friendship, friends with benefits, or in a marriage. Other times, abuse happens within families – like when a parent or caregiver harms a child. It is also possible for abuse to take place between people that don’t know each other well or at all. 

Harm can mean many different things. Someone may use physical violence to harm their partner. In other cases, they may use verbal or emotional abuse to hurt their partner, friend, or family member, and make them feel small or confused. In still other cases, a person who harms may use money to manipulate their partner. Sexual violence, or non-consensual sexual contact of any kind, is another way in which a person might harm another. 

The root of all abuse is power and control. The person who harms wants to feel powerful, and to control the other person. There are patterns throughout the relationship that usually indicate abuse. It is important to pay attention and recognize these patterns. 

Not sure if what you’re experiencing is abuse? Check out the Power & Control Wheel, visit our  Resources & Support page, or reach out to us to ask any questions you may have. 

If you’re experiencing abuse, it is not your fault. DOVE advocates are here to listen, support, and offer resources without judgment.