Coersive Control

Dating abuse often starts out with small, subtle types of control. One common form is called “coercive control”. Coercive lines are remarks that are used to try to convince a person to do something they may not want to do. Some lines may sound like compliments but they are meant to cause a response that goes beyond making you feel good. There are many types of coercion. Here are some examples:

Put downs:

  • I guess it’s true that you’re insecure.
  • You look like such a slut in that skirt.

Guilt Trips:

  • But I gave up going out with my friends to spend time with you.
  • I would do anything for you. Why won’t you do the same?


  • You’re not leaving, are you? Just relax for a bit.
  • Hey, you can see your friends later. I guarantee we’ll have a great time.


  • Quit acting like such a baby.
  • It’s your fault I lose my temper! You shouldn’t keep arguing with me.


  • If you really cared about me, you’d want to make me happy.
  • Girlfriends are supposed to agree with whatever their boyfriends say.


  • If you don’t, I’ll find someone else who will.


  • I want to marry you someday.
  • I can’t live without you. If you break up with me, I’ll die.
  • Adapted from Human Relations Media, “Open Arms? Open Eyes!”

Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan

If you are in a relationship that has been frightening or violent, chances are it will happen again, even if your boyfriend or girlfriend has promised that it won’t. For your own safety, it’s important to be prepared just in case.

Remember, you do not have any control over your boyfriend/girlfriend’s behavior. You do have control over how you prepare for it and respond to it.

Take a few minutes to answer these questions and prepare your safety plan.

  • These are the cues I’ve seen that my boyfriend/girlfriend is getting angry or violent:
  • These are some situations I’ve been in where I haven’t felt safe:
  • If I think there might be an argument, I will try to go to a place where other people might hear and/or a place where there is less risk of injury.
  • (Avoid kitchens, bathrooms, garages, rooms without an exit, or being near anything that could be used as a weapon.

  • These are people I trust and can ask for help:
  • This is my code word. I can share it with people I trust and use it to let them know I’m scared or need help:
  • When I share my code word, I can tell the people I trust what kind of help I want. I can also tell them what not to do. Here is what I will tell them:
  • If I’m with my boyfriend/girlfriend and am not feeling safe, here are some things I can say or do to get away:
  • Exercise, confiding in someone you trust, or doing things that make you feel happy or successful are some ways to help manage the pressure of a difficult relationship. Some people use drugs or alcohol to cope with their problems. But they can drain your energy, cloud your judgment and make you more vulnerable. Here are some things I can do to help myself cope:
  • If I can’t think of anyone I trust to talk to about my relationship, I can call a domestic violence or sexual assault program or crisis line at anytime without giving my real name. I can ask them to help me find someone I can trust.
No one deserves to be abused. This is not my fault.

Some adults, such as teachers, counselors and health care providers, are required by law to report abuse happening to anyone under age 18. If you are nervous about talking to an adult, ask whether they are required to report abuse to anyone under 18. Let them know that you are worried about your privacy, and talk with them about some of the ways they can help you. Also, you can always ask an adult about how you can help a friend who’s in a dangerous relationship without revealing that you have the same problem.