Almost Half Of Teens Have Experienced Dating Violence, Says New Study, And That Number Is Far Too High

Domestic violence or intimate partner violence (IPV) is one of those subjects that can be difficult to talk about. However, now more than ever this dialogue needs to be facilitated and, in light of recent data, this is especially true concerning younger generations. According to a new study presented on Wednesday at the American Psychological Association's meeting in Honoloulu, teenagers are more likely to be victims of domestic violence than any other age group. The study, which was based on data from a 2011 Growing Up With Media survey of 878 teens between the ages of 14 and 19, found that nearly half of teens who have been in a relationship have experienced dating violence.

Dating violence isn't only physical abuse. It can be mental, physical, sexual, and even digital. Violence experienced at an early age can be especially detriment; furthermore, almost a quarter of women who reported experiencing some type of partner violence in their lives said they first experienced it as teenagers. Experiencing violence from a partner can lead to anxiety, depression, suicide, antisocial behaviors and substance abuse issues throughout adolescence and into adulthood.

We live in a violent society. Nearly half of women killed in 2012 were killed by their partners or family members, and more often than not, incidents of violence go unreported. A discussion of this type of violence needs to happen now, both so it can be prevented and to enable victims of IPV to get help and become survivors.

So what can we learn from this new study? Here are some important takeaways to get the dialogue flowing:

1. There are almost the same number of victims as abusers.

The data showed the 49 percent of the teens who had been in relationships had been victims of violence while 46 percent admitted to perpetrating some sort of violence against a partner.

2. Emotional abuse is most prominent.

When we think of domestic violence we usually think of the physical injuries it can leave behind. However, violence can also be emotional. Emotional abuse can be verbal, from name-calling to treats of physical violence, it can also manifest itself through psychological manipulation and control.

3. Rates of teen violence is not gender dependent.

Overall, the rates of teen dating violence are similar for both girls and boys.

4. Girls are more physically violent.

Although the rates of occurrence are similar, girls were more likely to admit to physically perpetrating a partner.

5. Boys are more sexually violent.

Although girls admitted to being more physically abusive, boys were "much more likely" to say they had sexually assaulted someone, according to the study. "When girls are the aggressors, it tends to be low-level behaviors, light hitting, name calling, things like that. When you look at serious sexual and severe physical assault, we tend to see a bit more from the boys than the girls,'" according to Carlos Cuevas, a researcher from Northeastern University-Boston in an interview with USA Today.

6. Teen victims can also be teen abusers.

Teens are experience violence from both sides, "29 percent of girls and 24 percent of boys said they had been both a victim and an abuser — some in the same relationship and some in different relationships," according to the study. Researchers recommend looking at teen violence differently, “Categorically assuming distinct ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ may lead to ineffective prevention [efforts]."

There are many ways to help victims of domestic violence or get help if you're in an abusive relationship. The solution starts with talking about the issue. No more.

If you or anyone you know needs help with domestic violence go here to find resources in your area.

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