Anyone can experience dating abuse
But not everyone has the same experience getting help.

There are certain identities, life situations, conditions, or other factors that can contribute to our ability (or inability) to reach out for services.
To provide effective and impactful individualized support, we must be aware of these barriers. 

Systemic barriers restrict or limit access to resources or opportunities in various spaces. These barriers can be related to
attitudes, communication, programmatic policies, social issues, transportation, or more.



  • Homophobia

  • Transphobia

  • Biphobia

  • Biased media portrayal 1

  • Lack of reliable resources

  • Judicial bias in court

  • Police bias and lack of training

  • Conversion therapy

  • Social stigmas and assumptions

  • Being “outed" by dating partner 2

  • Limited access based on sexual orientation or gender identity




  • Undocumented status, lack of SS#

  • Unaware of legal rights

  • Fear or threat of deportation

  • Awaiting documentation

  • Racism or xenophobia 3

  • Language barriers or ESL status

  • Lack of family or resources

  • Racial profiling or ICE raids

  • Child detention centers

  • “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy

  • Change in policy for U Visas4

  • Status in community

  • Distrust in law enforcement



low socioeconomic status

  • Financially dependent upon abuser

  • Can’t afford to take time off work to seek legal or emotional help

  • Lack of transportation

  • Difficulty securing loans or gainful employment

  • Lack of access to affordable medical treatment or insurance

  • High cost of living

  • Risk of houselessness 5,6

  • Family or other dependents

  • Choice between food and shelter or safety

  • “Protective pairing,” where a homeless person may stay in a DV situation to stay safe from other dangers (theft, robbery, police, sex assault)

  • Marginalization

  • Lack of resources

  • Stigmatization at school



  • Minimal rights for minors in Hawai’i 7

  • Child’s dating status is kept hidden from parents

  • Youth not allowed to date, and does so in secrecy

  • Stigmatization of youth by teachers, parents, community, etc.

  • Normalization of unhealthy dating trends 8

  • Unhealthy messages normalized in social media, teen culture, entertainment 9

  • Lack of positive role models

  • Susceptibility to drug / alcohol use, peer pressure, gang culture

  • Normalization of risky behavior (e.g., sharing of nudes / explicit photos)

  • Distrust in adults or service providers

  • Reliance upon technology to communicate

  • Cognitive impairment due to past trauma, drug use

  • Lack of financial security


Masculine-identified Individuals

  • Not commonly viewed as being a victim of abuse

  • Limitations for expected masculinity 10

  • Lack of positive support when seeking help related to abuse

  • Encouraged to be dominant and controlling

  • Emotional expectations for anger and aggression

  • Media and entertainment portrays men as dominant, controlling, egotistical 11

  • Heteronormative views of dating relationships 12

  • View of feminism as problematic

  • Lack of positive role models

  • Toxic masculinity (aka Hegemonic masculinity 13)

  • Lack of accountability

  • Entitlement and male privilege

  • Status in society



  • Lack of services or resources allocated for people with impairments

  • Limitations imposed on people by the constraints of an ableist society 14

  • Lack of “People-first language,” which stigmatizes those with impairment 15

  • Access to adaptive equipment

  • Lack of accessibility

  • Stereotype of impairment as decline and deterioration

  • Discrimination of people with impairment 16

  • Lack of employment opportunities

  • Stigmatization in schools, sports, jobs, etc.

  • Inadequate resources for people with impairments (i.e., lack of documents written in braille for a seeing impaired individual seeking an Order for Protection) 17


Rural or isolated residence

  • Lack of accessible resources

  • Community knowledge of relationship 18

  • Victim blaming

  • Family shame

  • Lack of reliable or trusted people

  • Transportation issues

  • Distrust in social services or law enforcement

  • Lack of electronic resources

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culture / language

  • Language barriers

  • No available translators

  • Service providers reluctant to reach out for translator

  • Stigmatization for ESL students 19

  • Xenophobia

  • Culture enforces strict gender expectations

  • Lack of access to cultural / family support

  • Discriminated against or prohibited from speaking first language

  • Culture reinforces unhealthy relationship expectations (i.e., not allowed to separate)

  • Lack of documentation for language access 20


mental health status

  • Stigmas around mental health

  • Lack of resources available at school

  • Generalizations about those with mental health needs

  • Lack of access to medication

  • Prohibitions for those with mental health needs

  • Biased media portrayal 21

  • Overlooked for advancement (e.g., in school, workforce, etc.)


systemic contact

  • Distrust of the system

  • Negative experience with system or law enforcement

  • Policies and procedures reinforce disadvantages

  • Historical trauma 22

  • Systems of oppression

  • Inequality & inequity

  • Compassion fatigue / vicarious trauma on the part of service providers 23,24

  • Victim blaming

  • Externalized phobias impact services provided

  • Police brutality

  • Fake news or misinformation