Carnegie Mellon University

Dating and Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

The occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood:

  1. Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon;
  2. Placing another person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  3. The infliction of false imprisonment;
  4. Physically or sexually abusing minor children;
  5. Stalking.

Source: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 23, Section 6102.

Dating Violence

 Violence committed by a person:

  1. Who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and
  2. Where the existence of such relationship is determined based on a consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and the frequency of the interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Source: United States Code, Title 42, Section 13925(a)(1), as amended by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

Physical Violence

  • Intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing harm or injury.
  • Includes: pushing, hitting, physically restraining, scratching, biting, choking, slapping, punching, burning and/or use of a weapon.

Sexual Violence

  • Includes: unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault and other unwanted sexual experiences including unwanted exposure to pornography and taking and/or sharing photos or videos of a person of a sexual nature.

Verbal Abuse:

  • Use of communication with the intent to control and/or harm mentally or emotionally.
  • Includes: name calling, humiliating, screaming, and making threats, including threats of physical or sexual violence or self-harm.

Emotional Abuse

  • Conduct with the intent to control and/or harm mentally or emotionally.
  • Includes: isolation from friends and family, withholding affection, controlling behavior (excessive monitoring, limiting access to transportation and money, etc.), and making threats, including threats of physical or sexual violence or self-harm.

Electronic Abuse

  • Includes: stealing passwords, monitoring electronics, messages and online accounts without permission, "checking up" on someone using messages, texts or calls, and tracking someone using GPS.


  • A pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact that is intended to cause emotional distress and/or fear of bodily injury.
  • Includes: repeated, unwanted phone calls, emails, texts and/or social media messages; watching or following from a distance; appearing in places where the person is not wanted or does not have a legitimate reason to be.

Sources: CDC, Intimate Partner Violence: Definitions (2015), available at:;  Everfi, Haven: Understanding Sexual Assault (June 2015)

Dating Violence Among College Students

  • 43% of college-aged women and 28% of college-aged men reported experiencing at least one of the following in a dating relationship:
    • controlling behavior;
    • verbal abuse;
    • abuse via technology;
    • physical abuse; and/or
    • sexual abuse.
  • 29% of college-aged women and 17% of college-aged men reported having been in an abusive dating relationship.
  • 36% of college-aged students have given computer/email/social media passwords to their dating partner, increasing the risk of electronic abuse.
  • More than half of college-aged students do not know how to recognize dating abuse, and a similar proportion do not know how to help a friend in an abusive relationship.

Source: Knowledge Networks, "2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll" (Jun. 9, 2011), available at:

Intimate Partner Violence in America

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men reported experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
    • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men reported experiencing severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Almost half of all adult men and women have experienced psychological abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Women aged 16 to 24 are at the greatest risk of intimate partner violence.

Source: CDC, National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report (Nov. 2011), available at:

Does your partner:

  • check your cell phone or email without your permission?
  • criticize you or put you down?
  • tell you who you can/should hang out with or talk to?
  • pressure you to have sex or do sexual things that you are not comfortable doing?
  • destroy or threaten to destroy your belongings?
  • make you feel afraid?
  • have extreme mood swings?
  • threaten to hurt you or themselves if you break up with them?

It is important to seek help if you recognize signs of abuse in your relationship or the relationship of a loved one, because dating and domestic violence tends to escalate (or get worse) over time.

  • Consider contacting the Office of Title IX Initiatives (412-268-7125 or to learn about support and safety measures the University can offer, and to learn your options for investigation and resolution.  Learn more about the University's response here.
  • Consider contacting the Women's Center and Shelter, the Center for Victims, or CAPS for support, resources, confidential reporting, and safety planning.  Learn more about these resources here.
  • Consider contacting law enforcement, whether University Police or local police.  You have the right to choose whether or not to notify law enforcement, and the Office of Title IX Initiatives can assist you in notifying law enforcement if you choose.
  • Consider seeking a Protection from Abuse Order (Pennsylvania's equivalent of a Restraining Order).  Women's Center & Shelter can help with the process (412-687-8005).  You can learn more about Protection from Abuse Orders here (Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence) and here (Allegheny County Court System).