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Many warning signs exist for dating abuse, violence

Published on -7/22/2013, 9:44 AM

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This is the third in a series about abuse and violence in adolescent dating and romantic relationships.

Q: What are the red flags and risk factors for adolescent dating abuse and violence?

A: One of the most alarming facts about abuse in adolescent relationships is 69 percent of teens who had sex by age 14 reported one or more types of abuse. This information is available along with other facts about dating violence on the YWCAwings.org website, as itemized below.

Adolescents need to learn to identify early signs of abuse. These are numerous:

* Extreme jealousy.

* Controlling behavior.

* Quick involvement.

* Unpredictable mood swings.

* Explosive anger.

* Isolation of partner from family and friends.

* Use of force during arguments.

* Hypersensitivity.

* Belief in rigid sex roles.

* Cruelty to animals.

* Verbal abusiveness.

* Violent threats.

* Abusiveness towards previous partners.

In a Stanford University Medical Center online article on Healthy Teen Relationships, there are additional warning signs of abuse:

* Accusing you of things you did not do.

* Making all the decisions about what to do and where to go.

* Not letting you hang out with friends.

* Putting you down in front of other people.

* Telling you what to wear and how to act.

* Texting and checking up on you all the time.

* Putting a guilt trip on you.

* Threatening you if you try to leave.

* Forcing sex and refusing to practice safe sex.

The following are risk factors for teenage victims of violence and abuse, for both boys and girls:

* Have more conflict in the relationship.

* Believe relationship too important to lose.

* Abuse alcohol or other drugs.

* Have few social supports.

* Have peers who have been sexually abused.

* Attend church infrequently.

* Have more former dating partners.

* Have probably been sexually active before.

Regarding adolescent female victims of violence and abuse, risk factors are:

* More likely victims of sexual dating violence.

* More likely to experience emotional abuse by partners.

* More likely to receive more injuries than males as the result of partner violence.

These risk factors are posted on the Ohio State University Extension fact sheet titled Family Tapestries.

A publication from the Children's Safety Network reiterates risk factors for perpetrators in teen dating violence, from the Centers for Disease Control, 2009.

These include:

* Poor communication/social skills.

* Inability to manage anger.

* Belief in traditional gender roles.

* Association with friends who perpetuate dating violence.

* Witnessing family violence.

* Exposure to community violence.

* Accepting the use of alcohol or other drugs.

According to research from the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (O'Keefe 2005), low self-esteem correlates with dating victimization for girls and correlates with dating violence for boys.

The CDC, in another online publication, reiterated additional risk factors for becoming teenage perpetrators.

They are trauma, having friends who are abusive, experiencing harsh parenting or inconsistent discipline, and lack of parental supervision and warmth.

Some statistics about teen violence in dating are dramatic, such as these facts from the 2008 Break the Cycle website. One in four teenage girls who have been in serious relationships state they have been pressured to engage in intercourse or perform oral sex. Approximately 80 percent of teenage girls who have been abused in their dating or romantic relationships continue to date their abusers.

* Next week's article will discuss myths parents and adolescents believe about abuse and violence.

Judy Caprez is an associate professor of social work at Fort Hays State University. Send your questions in care of the department of sociology and social work, Rarick Hall, FHSU.

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