FAMILY Domestic Violence Services
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In a survey of more than four thousand 9th through 12th-graders, approximately one in five female students reported being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.
The information that appears below is reprinted from the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, at www.SafeYouth.org. Click here for information about what you can do to protect yourself and others, and what you must do if you are hurting someone.
According to recent statistics, it is extremely likely that you or someone you know has experienced violence in a dating relationship. Dating violence can take many forms, including psychological and emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. It can occur in the context of casual dating or serious long-term relationships.
Psychological and Emotional Abuse
If a boyfriend or girlfriend humiliates, insults, or swears at you, you are experiencing psychological and emotional abuse. Other examples include attempting to control a boyfriend or girlfriend’s activities, trying to destroy his or her self-confidence and self-esteem, and isolating the person from other friends and family. Threats of violence are also abusive and should always be taken seriously.
Physical abuse includes such things as hitting, slapping, punching, shoving, kicking, biting, and hair-pulling. It also includes the use of a weapon, such as a club, knife, or gun, against a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Both teenage boys and teenage girls report being victims of physical violence in relationships. Typically, however, teenage boys and teenage girls use physical force for different reasons and with different results. While both tend to report acting violently because they were angry, teenage boys are much more likely to use force in order to control their girlfriends, while girls more often act violently in self-defense.
Teenage girls suffer more from relationship violence, emotionally and physically. They are much more likely than teenage boys to have serious injuries and to report being terrified. In contrast, male victims seldom seem to fear violence by their dates or girlfriends, often saying that the attacks did not hurt and that they found the violence amusing.
The term sexual abuse refers to forced or unwanted sexual activity or rape. It is also considered sexual abuse to coerce or pressure someone to engage in sexual activity or try to engage in sexual activity with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Teenage girls in heterosexual relationships are much more likely than teenage boys to suffer from sexual abuse.
How frequently does dating violence occur?
It is difficult to say because different studies and surveys ask about it in different ways and get very different results. Some studies only ask about physical abuse, while others include questions about psychological and emotional abuse and sexual violence. Past estimates of dating violence among middle school and high school students range from 28% to 96%.
One recent national survey found that 1 in 11 high-school students said they had been hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year. 1 in 11 students also reported that they had been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to.
Far greater numbers of teens (as high as 96%) report emotional and psychological abuse in their dating relationships.