Kids Help Phone


Forms of Dating Abuse

Any type of abuse is not okay in a relationship. The person being harmed does not, nor ever, deserved it. This is unhealthy behaviour. Abuse is not limited to being physically harmed. 


The most common types of dating abuse are as follows:

the use of words or actions to control, dominate, intimidate, degrade, or intentionally harm another person psychologically. Emotional abuse is a “red flag” warning sign of abuse. It typically happens before physical violence. It is the most common form of abuse.

Examples of emotional abuse: Making fun/overly criticizing, threats of violence or property destruction, spying, controlling what a person does or who they spend time together with, spreading rumours/telling secrets, etc.

the use of intentional force on another person to control their behaviour, intimidate, or punish.

Examples include: scratching, biting, pushing/shoving, grabbing the person’s clothes, preventing the person from leaving a place, strangulation, or using a weapon.

It can be one incident. It may also involve multiple, repeated, and potentially escalating incidents.

forcing any form of sexual activity on someone without their consent.

any situation where one person uses verbal or physical means to obtain sexual activity without consent. This includes pressuring someone into saying yes. This is sexual assault.

any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favours, or other forms of verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, like making sexual jokes which make people feel uncomfortable, posting offensive online pictures, name-calling based on someone’s gender or sexual orientation, or unwanted touching.

sending sexually explicit images or messages from one person to another using technology.


The law states that sexting between or regarding anyone under 18 is considered possessing and distributing child pornography. Anyone owning a device or accessing these images can be charged.

The law is concerned with the distribution of images and videos and whether one person in the relationship shares those images with other people or the images are leaked.

Any type of abuse in a relationship is not okay regardless of whether it happens once or more than once. Tell someone and seek help. Both parties involved need help either developing the skills for healthy relationships or coping with the impact of the abuse.

If someone is using/has used abuse against you, remember it is not your fault. It does not reflect your worth.

*Types of Emotional Abuse:

  1. Degrading: a person receives messages that they are not good enough. They are insulted, humiliated and made fun of. They may come to feel worthless.
  2. Isolating: a person is kept from their regular social interactions, and/or their family and friends. They are cut off from their support networks.
  3. Ignoring: a person is given mixed messages – welcomed in some situations and ignored in others.
  4. Terrorizing: fear is created using insults and be verbal or non-verbal threats, which intimidate a person.
  5. Corrupting: a person is encouraged to participate in unwanted, harmful, and perhaps even illegal behaviour.
  6. Exploiting: one person uses another to obtain something they want or need – whether emotionally, physically, financially, or sexually.
  7. Controlling: one person tries to dominate and control another person’s behaviour. This is often motivated by jealousy.
  8. Coercion:   one person tries to persuade or convince someone to so something by using force or threats.


If you are being abused in any of your relationships, tell someone you trust. Even if they person is threatening you or tells you not to tell anyone, you need to tell someone to get help. You deserve to get help and have healthy relationships.

Abuse is about power and control. One person tries to have power and control over the other by using the abusive behaviours. The intention behind the abusive behaviour is to maintain or obtain power and control over the other person. 

It usually happens in a cycle where things might be good and then there is tension in the relationship. This is followed by an escalation of behaviour. After the person does something harmful, they may be apologetic or try to justify their actions. 

There are many different types of abuse.

when someone harms you based on your identity or culture. This could also be using cultural practices to harm someone or not allowing someone to be involved with mainstream culture.

using money to harm someone. This could taking someone’s money or things, not paying someone back, exploiting someone for money, etc.

the use of intentional force on another person to control their behaviour, intimidate, or punish. This can also be threats of violence to a person or to people/pets the person loves.

the use of words or actions to control, dominate, intimidate, degrade, or intentionally harm another person psychologically. Emotional abuse is a “red flag” warning sign of abuse. It typically happens before physical abuse. It is the most common form of abuse.

causing the person harm or disregarding their boundaries in relation to reproductive health. This could be tampering with birth control, removing condoms, or pressuring someone into a pregnancy they do not want.

the improper exposure of someone to sexual contact, activity, or behaviour. This can include sexual assault, sexual coercion, and sexual harassment.

is behaviour that harms other relationships in your life. It can be isolating a person from their loved ones or turning others against the person.

is harming someone with religion/belief systems or harming someone because of their religion/belief system. It can also be not allowing a person to practice their religion/spirituality.

using technology to harass  or harm someone. It could be sharing intimate details/pictures, forcing the person to do things they do not want to on technology, messaging the person means things, pretending to be the person online to harm relationships, looking through phone/monitoring others you are talking to, or demanding  immediate response to repeated messages/calls throughout the day.

the use of words to be mean, cruel, and hurtful. This could be ridiculing the person, manipulating the person, or swearing at/name calling.

The lines between the different types of abuse are tricky. The types of abuse often do not occur alone.

Get Help

If you are being abused by an adult in your life, you can call the Child Abuse Hotline at   1-800-387-5437 (KIDS).  It is available 24/7 in multiple languages. You can call the Kids Help Phone for support at   1-800-387-5437 (KIDS).

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.

If a friend or someone you know is being abused, tell someone. They need help. You can call the Child Abuse Hotline or a helping/trusted adult.

Reporting abuse is not easy. It can be a scary thing to do. If you are the one being abused, you might have some mixed feelings about reported, because you might care for the person who is harming you. This is common.  Please remember you deserve to feel/be safe. You deserve to have healthy and fulfilling relationships. 

It is scary, but  you are stronger than you know. Talk to someone. Get help.

For more information on abuse/reporting, please visit   The Issue • Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (

Further Resources

If you would like to speak to someone about mental health issues, the Alberta Health Services Mental Health Help Line is available 24/7, offering information and referrals on any aspect of mental health.

Call toll-free: 1-877-303-2642

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