When we hear about domestic violence, we often assume it’s between adults, from lower income, minority families, but those are myths.
Intimate partner violence takes many shapes and forms among many different groups of people. It spans across different ages, sexualities, and ethnicities. Dating violence is a widespread issue that affects many high school students, girls and boys alike
- More than one in three women and one in four men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime – many first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age
- One in five female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner
- Females 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group – at a rate almost triple the national average
- LGBT youth are just as likely to experience dating violence as youth involved in opposite sex dating
- Half of reported date rapes occur among teenagers
What is Dating Violence?
Teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically, and it may occur between a current or former dating partner. Both males and females can be victims of dating violence. Female abusers are more likely to yell, pinch, slap, scratch or kick; and male abusers are more likely to injure girls with more severity and more frequently. Dating violence is a serious issue that can have severe short-term and long-term negative consequences on a developing teen.
What Does Dating Violence Look Like?
- Physical Abuse: any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, strangling, kicking, or using a weapon
- Verbal or Emotional Abuse: non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking
- Sexual Abuse: any cation that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion, or restricting access to birth control
- Digital abuse: use of technologies and/or social media to intimidate, harass, or threaten a current or ex-dating partner, like demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyberbullying, non-consensual sexting, excessive or threatening texts or stalking on social media
How Does Dating Violence Affect Victims?
Teens are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships as they develop. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have serious negative consequences.
Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to experience the following:
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Engagement in unhealthy behaviors, such as tobacco and drug use, and alcohol
- Involvement in antisocial behaviors
- Thoughts about suicide
- Higher risk for victimization during college
Warning Signs of Dating Violence
Here are some of the signs that abusers exhibit:
- Excessive jealousy or insecurity
- Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
- Constant checking in with you or making you check in with him or her
- Attempts to isolate you from your friends and family
- Constant belittling or put-downs on you or people you care about
- Is very controlling – may include giving you orders, telling you what to wear, and making your decisions for you
- Blames you when he or she treats you badly by telling you all the ways you provoked them
- Has an explosive temper
- Pressures you into sexual activity with which you are not comfortable
- You worry about how your partner will react to the things you say or you are afraid of provoking your partner
- Refuses to let you end the relationship
How to Seek Help
If you believe that you, a friend, or your child is engaged in a violent relationship with their partner, you can reach out for help. Contact your school, local authorities, The Youth Project, etc., for additional resources.
Strength United provides a unique interdisciplinary approach to ending abuse and violence through the collaboration of mental health professionals, educators, researchers, students and volunteers.
This collaboration enhances the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities through our 24-hour response team, advocacy, intervention, education, prevention and work for social change
Loveisrespect.org offers multiple ways of speaking with someone about your situation. You can live chat, text, or call an advocate for a safe place to talk and consult, 24/7.
Other Websites Cited:
http://www.breakthecycle.org/learn-about-dating-violence, http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html, http://www.clotheslineproject.org/teendatingviolencefacts.pdf, http://www.ncdsv.org/images/WarningSignsofTeenDatingViolence.pdf