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Dating abuse or dating violence is defined as the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. It is also when one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse/violence. This abuse/violence can take a number of forms: sexual assault, sexual harassment, threats, physical violence, verbal, mental, or emotional abuse, social sabotage, and stalking. It can include psychological abuse, emotional blackmail, sexual abuse, physical abuse and psychological manipulation.
Dating violence crosses all racial, age, economic and social lines. The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness describes dating abuse as a "pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner." The Family & Community Development support group at eCitizen in Singapore has described what it calls tell-tale signs of an abusive relationship.
Individuals of all walks of life can find themselves in an abusive relationship. Abuse can occur regardless of the couple's age, race, income, or other demographic traits. There are, however, many traits that abusers and victims share in common.
The Centre for Promoting Alternatives to Violence describes abusers as being obsessively jealous and possessive, overly confident, having mood swings or a history of violence or temper, seeking to isolate their partner from family, friends and colleagues, and having a tendency to blame external stressors.
Meanwhile, victims of relationship abuse share many traits as well, including: physical signs of injury, missing time at work or school, slipping performance at work or school, changes in mood or personality, increased use of drugs or alcohol, and increasing isolation from friends and family. Victims may blame themselves for any abuse that occurs or may minimize the severity of the crime. This often leads to victims choosing to stay in abusive relationships.
Strauss (2005) argues that while men inflict the greater share of injuries in domestic violence, researchers and society at large must not overlook the substantial minority of injuries inflicted by women. Additionally, Strauss notes that even relatively minor acts of physical aggression by women are a serious concern:
Similarly, Deborah Capaldi  reports that a 13-year longitudinal study found that a woman's aggression towards a man was equally important as the man's tendency towards violence in predicting the likelihood of overall violence: "Since much IPV [Intimate Partner Violence] is mutual and women as well as men initiate IPV, prevention and treatment approaches should attempt to reduce women's violence as well as men's violence. Such an approach has a much higher chance of increasing women's safety." However, Capaldi's research only focused on at-risk youth, not women in general, and, therefore, may not apply to the entire population.