Background on Dating Abuse

Girl crying

The Basics

  • One in three teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, including verbal and emotional abuse.
  • 40% of teenage girls, ages 14 to 17, known someone their own age who has been hit or beaten by their partner.
  • 80% of girls who have been physically abused keep dating their abuser.
  • 1 in 4 teenage girls in relationships say they have been pressured to perform oral sex or have sex when they don't want to.

The Background

Dating abuse (also known as intimate partner abuse) is a pattern of controlling behaviors that one partner uses to get power over the other. It includes:

  • Any kind of physical violence or threat of physical violence to get control
  • Emotional or mental abuse, such as playing mind games, making you feel crazy, yelling at you, or constantly putting you down or criticizing you
  • Sexual abuse, including making you do anything you don’t want to do, refusing to have safe sex or making you feel badly about yourself sexually

People know that dating violence has a negative effect on the victim and the longer the abuse continues the more negative the effects.

Physical Effects

At least 42% of women and 20% of men sustain minor injuries such as scratches, bruises and swelling. More severe injury may occur is the abuse is frequent and harsh. Some of the most common injuries are:

  • Bruises, lesions and cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Gynecological injuries

Psychological Effects

Where there is physical abuse, there is also emotional abuse. All abuse has severe psychological consequences for the victim.

  • Depression & anxiety
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Inability to concentrate

Social Effects

The negative social effects can be the very thing that makes the victim unable to escape the violence.

  • Controlled access to services meant to help the victim – often the abuser monitors the victim’s calls and/or internet use so the victim doesn’t contact an organization out of fear that she'll get caught and punished as a result.
  • Isolation from family, friends and other supportive individuals.
  • Changes in behavior at school - not speaking up as much, personality changes, or slipping grades.

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