Cycle of abuse
Many children who grow up in violent homes recreate the violence in their present relationships. Girls who are abused at young ages tend to involve themselves with abusive males as they grow older. Likewise, without intervention, a teenage boy who is battering his girlfriend will continue to use controlling behavior as he enters adulthood. Without adequate support systems, problem solving abilities, and coping skills, teens – both batterers and victims – are likely to continue the cycle of violence into their adult lives.
Link between dating violence and other problems
Victims of dating abuse are not only at increased risk for physical injury, they are also more likely to engage in binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fights, and sexual activities. Rates of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use are more than twice as high in girls who report physical or sexual dating abuse than in girls who report no abuse. Also, there is a direct correlation between teen dating violence and pregnancy. Abused teens are four to six times more likely to become pregnant than non-abused teens. In addition, abusive dating experiences during adolescents may disrupt normal development of self-esteem and body image.
The prevalence of teen dating violence is alarming, as shown by the following statistics:
- 1 in 11 adolescents reports being a victim of physical dating abuse;
- 1 in 4 adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse each year;
- 1 in 5 high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner;
- 72% of eighth and ninth graders reportedly “date”; by the time they are in high school, 54% of students report dating abuse among their peers;
- nearly 80% of teenage girls who are abused remain in the abusive relationship;
- 40% of teenage girls know of someone who has been beaten by her boyfriend;
- 30% of all murdered teenage girls are killed by a boyfriend or former boyfriend;
This problem is even more crucial in light of the fact that experts believe that violence among dating teens is severely underreported.
In dating situations, youth test their concepts of masculinity, femininity, respect and communication. Dating relationships can reinforce unhealthy gender stereotypes unless they are based on clear communication, trust, and nonviolent ways of settling conflict. Unfortunately, adolescents often believe that unhealthy relationships are the norm. Many relationships seen on TV, in the movies, and in magazines are unrealistic or unhealthy examples of relationships. This skewed perception is even more pronounced if the teen has witnessed or been the victim of child abuse or other violence in the home. However, educating teens about abusive relationships helps prevent teen dating violence and thus can help break the cycle of abuse.
Adolescence has been characterized as a ‘window of opportunity’ – a time for adolescents to prepare for future relationships by learning healthy relationship skills such as negotiation, compromise and conflict resolution
For further information on this topic go to:
If you or someone you know might be at risk, the following link will provide state by state resources. The US National Domestic Violence Hotline Number is: 800-799-7233