You know how some adults (read: teachers, parents) don’t always consider teenage relationships to be as “real” as adult relationships? They’re wrong and it sucks. Obviously you can experience very real and amazing emotions like love when you’re dating in high school, but I also know that a lot of super serious issues can come up in those relationships as well.
A new study from Cornell University makes it clear that some teenagers do face a very serious relationship concern that could have a very real impact on their future: domestic violence.
This study involved asking a group of 6,000 participants in relationships, ranging in age from 12 to 18 years old, questions regarding if they had experienced certain abusive behaviors (including instances of verbal, emotional and physical abuse). Five years later, these participants were asked a series of follow-up questions about some health-related behaviors, and they were also asked if within the last year they had been victimized by a romantic partner.
What they learned from their participants is pretty much . . . awful. Thirty percent of the boys and girls who participated in the study said they had experienced dating violence (that’s almost one in three, you guys), and those who had an aggressive partner when they were younger were two to three times more likely to experience dating violence when they got older. In addition to issues in their future relationships, the study found that both boys and girls who had experienced more violent relationships also were more likely to face numerous health concerns, including suicidal thoughts. Beyond upsetting, I know.
I first read about this study in Time and they cited some statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that continued to make my stomach churn. Did you know that according to a CDC survey, 9.4% of teenagers they surveyed said that they’d experienced physical abuse by their partner? That’s nearly one in 10 teenagers. So, probably at least one person you know. It’s completely heartbreaking–not to mention scary.
The study’s authors themselves referred to teen dating violence as “an understudied phenomenon” – and even this study probably only scratched the surface. For example, it only looked at heterosexual couples, when domestic violence can definitely happen in same-sex relationships as well.
So what should you do if this is happening to you? There are a number of resources that you can turn to, such as LoveisRespect.org, local organizations or even just a trusted adult in your life. What you are experiencing isn’t trivial because of your age – it’s a real life, abusive situation and you don’t want it negatively affecting the rest of your life, and neither do those people around you who truly love and care about you.
Finding yourself in a situation like this can be difficult and emotionally complicated, but please go get help. Even simply being informed about signs of abusive relationships could seriously save your life or the life of a friend. Let’s all make as much of an effort as we can to get people talking about teenage dating violence and taking it seriously.
Did you learn something new from this study on teenage dating violence? have you ever experience violence in any of your relationships? What did you do? Tell us in the comments!