Being accused of domestic violence is a serious concern; you could be facing many potential penalties and your hard-earned reputation could be ruined. What is dating violence, though, and what does it mean to be accused of violence against someone you’re dating?

Violence is a misleading word; dating violence isn’t necessarily physical in nature. Dating violence can be controlling behavior, emotional or verbal abuse or physical abuse. Examples of verbal or emotional abuse would be threatening to hurt a partner, belittling that person or calling him or her names.

Controlling behaviors include telling a partner what to wear or calling frequently to keep track of a partner’s location and what he or she is doing. Restricting a person from seeing friends is also controlling behavior in some cases.

Physical abuse is, of course, when a person attacks another. It can include punching, kicking, hitting, hair pulling and other physical harm that comes to another person.

Another kind of abuse that may fall under different laws is sexual abuse. Forcing a person to have sex, forcing a person to kiss or touch someone or restricting access to birth control are all kinds of sexual abuse.

Anyone can be a victim of these kinds of abuse, but it’s important to know that not all conflicts are abusive in nature, either. Telling a person not to hang out with a friend who is doing illegal activities, for instance, is very different from telling someone not to see a good friend who is caring or supportive. It’s important that anyone accused of abuse speaks to an attorney about the potential penalties that could be used against him or her if the case goes to court and is won by the other party.

Source: Victims of Crime, “Bulletins for Teens: Dating Violence,” accessed Feb. 11, 2016