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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

     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.

Sexual Abuse

     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.

     A far greater number of teens (as high as 96%) report emotional and psychological abuse in their dating relationships.

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