Dating abuse occurs in all sectors of society from wealthy to poor, straight relationships and gay relationships as well as crossing all cultural lines. Media often shows abuse as part of a normal relationship, which causes confusion and persistent misunderstanding. Understanding what makes a healthy relationship and knowing and understanding what the signs of abuse are will go far in ending the cycle of violence.
Dating abuse is the psychological or physical abuse of one person directed towards another occurring in casual or serious dating relationships. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of all teenagers who report abuse, 70 percent of girls and 52 percent of boys report that the abuse happened while dating. Nine percent of girls and eight percent of boys have been seen in an emergency room for injuries received from someone they dated.
Abuse in Private
Some forms of abuse are not as obvious, such as using control as a form of abuse where the abuser assumes control over the other person's life and keeps the abused person in-line. Verbal abuse is also difficult to detect by those outside the relationship as it usually occurs in private, and the abuser may appear to everyone else as non-threatening. Emotional abuse is another form unseen by the outsider and usually involves the abuser degrading or devaluing their partner or denying emotional care or affection.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that one in five teenage girls had been sexually or physically abused by someone they had dated as of 2001. One in five teenage girls reports being the victim of emotional abuse. In the U.S., although all 50 states have laws against domestic violence, the term dating violence is rarely used in the wording of these laws.
Abuse by Racial Group
Though dating abuse occurs among all races, according to a 2006 report from the CDC, dating abuse takes place among black teenagers most frequently, at 13.9 percent, with abuse among Hispanic youth at 9.3 percent and abuse among white students at seven percent.
Abuse on Campus
Reports by the National Center For Victims of Crime estimate that five percent of female college students experience a completed rape in any given year and 51 percent of college males admit to being involved with a sexual assault during their college years. This dating violence is reported to someone else 50 percent of the time; 88 percent of victims tell a friend or acquaintance, and 20 percent make a report to the police.
Most universities and college centers have on-campus counseling centers available for any student. Helplines are set up to provide shelter, support services and medical help along with legal options including restraining and protective orders.