When we think about abuse, or see it in movies or TV, we usually picture an angry father shouting and hitting his wife and children. We tend to forget that there are many different kinds of abuse, and that domestic abuse doesn't have to come from a spouse or family member - it can also come from your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Many victims of relationship abuse stay with their abusers because they're afraid: afraid the abuser will hurt them or their family, afraid their family will blame them for the abuse, even afraid the abuser might hurt him- or herself. Abusers are not violent or mean all the time, and many victims stay in an abusive relationship because they think the other person will get better. Unfortunately, the situation doesn't usually get better. Most of the time, it gets worse.
Every couple has fights and arguments, and anyone can be nasty on a bad day. The difference is, abuse is a pattern - it keeps happening, and it usually gets worse. An abuser tries, sometimes without even knowing it, to control their girlfriend or boyfriend's life in every way. They use anything they can - words, their phone, money, the Internet, their fists - to make their boyfriend or girlfriend do what they want.
The best thing you can do to stop relationship abuse is to know what you're dealing with. Learn what it means to be in a healthy relationship, and compare that to the relationships you and your friends are in. Look out for each other. Watch for warning signs when you date someone. Most importantly, remember that you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who treats you with love and respect, and if someone can't do that, they're just not relationship material.