Teen Dating Violence Impacts Relationships in Adulthood

A history of victimization can make you two to three times more likely to be abused when you’re older. 

Posted: 12/12/2012 06:34 PM EST
Teen Dating Violence Impacts Relationships in Adulthood

One in 11 adolescents has been a victim of physical dating violence and one in four teens has reported physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While abuse most definitely has an immediate negative impact in a teen’s lives, it can also impact future relationships in adulthood.

A new study found that teens who experience domestic violence are more likely to be in abusive relationships when they are older.

Researchers from Cornell University surveyed more than 6,000 heterosexual young girls and boys 12-18 years old about their relationships. The questions dealt with a range of issues including “physical and psychological violence in romantic relationships, and also about feeling depressed, having suicidal thoughts, drinking and doing drugs,” reported HealthDay News.

Five years later, the researchers checked back in with their participants, and they  found that regardless of gender or the type of abuse they reported, young teens with a history of victimization were two to three times more likely to be abused in relationships when they were older.

Deinera Exner-Cortens, a graduate student and one of the lead authors of this study, explained the connection to HealthDay News.

"Romantic relationships are really important developmental experiences, where [teens] develop their identity, Exner-Cortens said. "If these relationships aren't going very well, it somehow skews their view of what a healthy relationship is and their healthy development."

Other findings included:

—    Girls who experienced physical violence were 44 percent more likely to drink heavily and 87 percent more likely to have partner violence as young adults.

—    Boys who experienced physical violence were more likely to have antisocial behavior; 90 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts; and 34 percent more likely to use marijuana and more than twice as likely to experience partner violence as young adults.

—    When looking at just physical and emotional abuse, it impacted the genders differently. Girls were more likely to be depressed, two times as likely to think about suicide, 50 percent more likely to smoke and about three times as likely to have partner violence. Boys who experienced this same violence were found to be 3.5 times more likely to be in an abusive relationship in young adulthood.

The authors wrote that they hope that these findings will ring the alarm on the need for more screening and prevention programs for young people.

Past data suggests that African-American and Hispanic students report higher rates of dating violence than white students. If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence, know that it is not your fault and you are not alone. Talk to an adult, teacher or call one of the resources below for help.

—    National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

—    National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

—    The Trevor Hotline:866-4-U-TREVOR (Trevor is a suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth — many people in the LGBT community may feel unsafe contacting hotlines that are not specific to the LGBT community)

—    National (Teen) Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474

To learn more about teen dating violence and what healthy relationships look like, go to loveisrespect.org.

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(Photo: GettyImages)

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