Why People Abuse

Why People Abuse

Is This Abuse?

People abuse their partners because they believe they have the right to control the person they’re dating. Maybe the abusive partner thinks they know best. Maybe they believe that they should be in charge in the relationship. Maybe they think unequal relationships are ideal.

Abuse is a learned behavior. Sometimes people see it growing up. Other times they learn it from friends or popular culture. No matter where it’s learned, it’s not ok and it’s never justified. Many people experience or witness abuse growing up and decide not to use those negative and hurtful ways of behaving. It’s most important to know that abuse is a choice, and it’s not one that anyone has to make.

Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. It happens regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background. Loveisrespect is here to help young people everywhere build healthy relationships. Explore the pages below to get a better understanding of how abuse works.

The Power and Control Wheel

Healthy relationships are based on equality and respect while abusive ones are based on power and control. Learn how abusive partners use violence and other tactics to get what they want. See the Power and Control Wheel.


Abuse in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships is not fundamentally different. It’s still about one partner using destructive behaviors to control the other. However, LGBTQ folks may face some specific types of abuse that are different than their straight peers. Learn about how abuse works in LGBTQ relationships.

Do Abusers Change? Quiz

We believe that people can change. But just because it’s possible, doesn’t make it easy. If you know someone who’s abusive, take our quiz to figure out if they’re really changing.

Drugs, Alcohol and Abuse

A lot of times people blame their bad behavior on something else, like drugs and alcohol. Drinking does affect abuse, but maybe not how you would think. Learn about drugs, alcohol and abuse.

Why Do People Stay?

For some people who’ve never experienced an abusive relationship, it’s hard to imagine why someone would stay. The truth is there’s lots of reasons why people don’t “just leave” — including that the break up is often the most dangerous time. Learn the reasons why people stay so you can be more supportive.

Dating Violence Statistics

We get asked a lot: is dating abuse a real problem? The answer is yes. One in three young people experience some form of abuse from a dating partner before they become adults. And going through all that can set you back in a lot of ways. Learn the facts about dating violence.

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