Take Action Against Abuse - For Young Adults


  • 22% of college women have been victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. [i]
  • 1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted while in college. [ii]
  • 85% of victims were assaulted by someone they knew, usually a fellow student. [iii]

Warning Signs of Abuse

Warning signs of an abuser include:

  • Controlling behavior
  • Excessive or threatening contact through text messages, phone calls or other forms of communication
  • Obsessive jealousy
  • Physical violence such as hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, etc.
  • Put downs and name-calling
  • Sexual pressure

Warning signs of someone being abused include:

  • Making excuses for a partner’s bad behavior
  • Fear of a dating partner
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies that were once enjoyable
  • Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping patterns, or alcohol or drug use
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Depression

How You Can Get Help

  • Contact the National Dating Abuse Hotline, where trained peer advocates can talk you through your situation and direct you toward appropriate resources. You can reach the Dating Abuse Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by phone call (1-866-331-9474), text (text “loveis” to 22522) or online chat.
  • Reach out to a parent, trusted adult, or friend for support.
  • • Consider creating a safety plan—a personalized, practical plan that can help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you’re in danger. For guides on safety planning, visit the loveisrespect website.
  • If you ever feel you're in immediate danger, call 911.

How You Can Help a Friend

  • Learn about dating violence and sexual assault, and educate others.
  • Never blame your friend for what is happening or underestimate her or his fear of potential danger. Focus on supporting your friend’s right to make her or his own decisions.
  • If a friend is or has been abused, listen to his or her story and encourage him or her to get help. Consider involving a parent or trusted adult, and offer to go with your friend to talk to an adult.
  • If your friend decides to end an abusive relationship, help her or him make a plan to be safe.

How You Can Help Prevent Violence

  • Speak up if you hear comments that promote violence against women. When abusers hear degrading comments or when no one speaks up, they’re more likely to believe that what they’re doing is ok.
  • Language is powerful. Be aware of language that you use that degrades women and survivors of other identities.
  • Don’t be afraid to be an active bystander. Intervene if you believe violence is occurring and it is safe for you to do so. Intervention can be subtle. Some examples of more subtle interventions could include checking in with the person you think is being harmed to see if they are ok; arranging to give the abusive person a call so they have to step away; or spilling a drink on the abusive person so they need to leave to clean up.

Recommendations for Sexual Assault Victims

Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes in the country. If you have been sexually assaulted, you can seek help from law enforcement, a rape crisis center or a health care provider.

  1. Get to a place where you feel safe. Your immediate safety is the most important consideration after an assault.
  2. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you want to have a rape kit collected, law enforcement or the local rape crisis center should know the closest medical facility that can perform this exam. If you decide to do this, try not to shower, change clothes, eat or go to the bathroom before seeking medical attention so as to preserve any evidence. Remember that if you do have a rape kit collected, you are not obligated to report the crime, but can if you so choose.
  3. If you are on a college or university campus, there are many places to which you can turn for help. Your Office of Student Affairs or University Counseling Center should have resources to direct you to where you can get help at your institution and in your community. Most colleges also have a sexual assault support phone number that you can call to get confidential assistance.
  4. Talk with someone you trust. Remember, you are not alone and what happened to you is not your fault. Talk with someone who will support you, your next steps and your decisions about seeking further assistance.
  5. Even if you were sexually assaulted months or years ago, you can still seek help. Contact your local rape crisis center or sexual assault coalition.

For More Information


[i] Krebs, C, Lindquist, C., Warner, T., Fisher, B, Martin, S.  December, (2007).  The Campus Sexual Assault Study.  National Institute of Justice.

[ii] Krebs, C, Lindquist, C., Warner, T., Fisher, B, Martin, S.  December, (2007).  The Campus Sexual Assault Study.  National Institute of Justice.

[iii] Krebs, C, Lindquist, C., Warner, T., Fisher, B, Martin, S.  December, (2007).  The Campus Sexual Assault Study.  National Institute of Justice.