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
A far greater number of teens (as
high as 96%) report emotional and psychological abuse in their
What You Can Do