Santa Barbara Divorce Attorney & Family Law Lawyer


(805) 879-7523

Are Dating Violence and Domestic Violence the Same Thing?

Sep 15, 2022 | Domestic Violence

It’s not always easy to tell when a relationship is unhealthy or abusive. Many people don’t even realize they’re in an abusive relationship until it’s too late. Domestic violence and dating violence are two types of abuse that can occur in any relationship, whether romantic, platonic, or familial. While both terms are sometimes used throughout society interchangeably, there are some key differences between domestic violence and dating violence that the average person might not be aware of. By understanding the distinction between the two, you can better protect yourself from becoming a victim of either type of abuse.

Is dating violence and domestic violence the same thing?

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is the toxic pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It can take many forms, such as physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, economic abuse, or psychological manipulation. Domestic violence can occur in any relationship, no matter how happy or healthy it may seem on the surface. Reasons for why someone may stay in an abusive relationship are complicated but usually boil down to a fear of the unknown or a belief that they can change their partner.

What is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is very similar to domestic violence in that it involves one person trying to control or dominate another person in a relationship. However, dating violence is the specific type of abuse between two people dating or in a romantic relationship. Dating violence can take the same forms as domestic violence, but it doesn’t necessarily have to involve marriage or living together. Reasons why someone might stay in a dating relationship despite being abused are similar to those for staying in an abusive marriage but can also include things like not wanting to hurt the other person’s feelings or being afraid of being alone.

How Can One Recognize Domestic Violence or Dating Violence?

If you’re not sure whether your relationship is healthy or unhealthy, there are some warning signs you can look out for. These warning signs can be general indicators of an unhealthy relationship, or they can specifically point to either domestic violence or dating violence.

Some warning signs that your domestic or dating relationship might be violent and abusive include:

  • Your partner is overly possessive or jealous of other people in your life, including your friends and family members.
  • Your partner tries to control what you do, who you see, or where you go.
  • Your partner is physically or sexually abusive towards you.
  • Your partner tries to control your finances or how you spend your money.
  • Your partner is verbally abusive, meaning they say things that are meant to hurt you emotionally.
  • Your partner tries to prevent you from working or going to school.
  • Your partner threatens violence against you, your friends, or your family members.
  • Your partner threatens to hurt themselves if you leave them.

Any combination of these signs could be indicative of either domestic violence or dating violence, so it’s critical to be on the lookout for them regardless of the type of relationship you’re in.

If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and get help from a domestic violence or dating violence hotline in your area. These hotlines can provide you with support and resources, and they can help you figure out what to do next. If you have legal questions or wish to advance a domestic violence or dating violence case, you should quickly seek the assistance of an attorney.


Q: What is the most common type of dating violence?

A: The most common type of dating violence is physical abuse, which can include things like hitting, kicking, or choking. This violence often escalates over time, and each act is followed by a period of calm or “honeymoon,” in which the abuser apologizes and promises never to do it again. This pattern can be extremely damaging and dangerous, as the bad action often gets worse and worse over time.

Q: How does dating violence usually start?

A: Dating violence usually starts with small acts of control or abuse, like telling the other person what clothes they should wear or who they can talk to. The abuser may also try to control the person’s finances or where they go. As the abuse escalates, the abuser may start to become physically violent, and the violence will usually become more frequent over time. By escalating this controlling behavior over time, the abuser is able to establish a pattern of power and control over the other person that they get comfortable with, and the abuser continues to push further.

Q: Who is most at risk for dating violence?

A: People of all genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds can be victims of dating violence. However, there are some historical factors that can put someone at a higher risk, such as being a teenager or young adult, having recently moved to a new area, or not having a close relationship with family or friends. People who have experienced abuse in previous relationships are also at higher risk of being victimized again. These risk factors don’t mean that abuse is inevitable, but they do indicate that the person may need extra support to stay safe.

Q: What steps can help someone recover from dating or domestic violence?

A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as everyone heals in their own way and at their own pace. However, there are some general tips that can be helpful for most people. These steps include reaching out for support from friends, family, or a domestic violence hotline; getting medical attention if needed; and talking to a therapist or counselor. It’s also important to develop a safety plan in case of an emergency and to make sure you have a safe location to go to if things get really bad. Finally, it’s crucial to remember that you are not alone and that legal help is available. Consulting with an attorney can help you understand your options and figure out the best way to keep yourself safe and legally protected from your abuser for years to come. Contact Drury Pullen today for help.

Subscribe to Our Blog


What Qualifies for Full Custody in California?

Some of the most contentious issues to resolve in family law involve the health and well-being of children. This is especially true in divorce cases where both parting spouses may have major disagreements on what the most favorable arrangement for their children is....

How Are Domestic Violence Cases Handled in California?

Domestic violence is a serious situation that has a drastic impact on the lives of everyone involved. No matter what side of the situation you are on, knowing the law and how the process works in handling these types of cases is crucial for those seeking justice....

How Is Spousal Support Determined in California?

Divorce can be an emotionally trying time, especially when legal and financial matters are considered. Spousal support, better known as alimony, often is a pivotal aspect of divorce settlements, designed to ensure the financial stability of the lesser-earning spouse...

How Does Mediation Work in a Divorce?

It’s not always easy to consider divorce as a journey you’re about to embark on since no one plans for or expects a marriage to end. Divorce can be daunting since it often carries a negative connotation. This is often from the process of litigation and its downsides...

How Long After Mediation Is Divorce Final in California?

Going through a divorce can be an unpleasant and stressful experience for the individuals involved. As such, it’s understandable to want your divorce to be finalized as quickly as possible. Mediation is a solution that can simplify the process of a divorce because it...

How Does Mediation Work in California Divorce?

When considering separating from your spouse or partner, it is important to remember that you have options. Mediation is an alternative to litigation and may save you time and money in your divorce. Many assume that they must turn to the courts for the dissolution of...

Navigating the Legalities of Pet Custody in California

For many Americans, pets are cherished members of the family. These beloved companions bring comfort and unconditional love into our daily lives. However, when human relationships dissolve, questions about pet custody can become emotionally and legally complex. In...