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Teen Dating Violence Increases with Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Posted on 25. Jul, 2014 by in Alcohol & Drug Abuse

A recent study surveyed close to 4,100 teens between the ages of 14 to 20 who recently visited an emergency room in a suburban community. The survey found that one in five girls and one in eight boys reported dating violence in the past year. In general, one in six teens seen in emergency rooms have experienced dating violence. The research was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine on June 29, 2014.

The research led to a realization that “an enormous number of youth and adolescents have already experienced violence in their dating lives in the past year,” said the author of the study Dr. Vijay Singh.

What’s important for parents and teens to recognize is that the patterns that begin in adolescence can easily carry over to adulthood. For violence that exists in relationships, there is a common cycle of abuse that experts have documented.

The cycle of abuse moves through four common phases: tension building, abuse, reconciliation, and calm. During the 1970’s, Lenore Walker developed the cycle of abuse theory that identified four distinct stages that an abusive relationship tends to get repeated again and again, often getting increasingly more intense. Over time, the relationship creates identified roles of abuser and victim and those roles get played out again and again as though each partner knows the steps to take and when.

These phases are:

Tension building: During this initial phase, the relationship is experiencing increasing amounts of tension. There’s a breakdown in communication, fear is increasing, and the victim will do her best to appease the abuser.

Abuse: The tension explodes into an abusive incident in which there is anger, blame, rage that gets expressed through emotional, physical, or verbal abuse.

Reconciliation: The abuser apologizes for his actions, gives excuses, blames the victim, or claims that the abuse was not all that bad.

Calm: The abuse is forgotten and a honeymoon period begins again.

According to the study, about 75% of the teens surveyed were Caucasian, 87% were in school, and 26% received public assistance. Also, the research revealed that factors associated with teen dating violence included depression and the use of alcohol and drugs. The study also revealed that girls who reported dating violence were more likely on public assistance, had poor grades, and had already been treated at an ER in the past year for a violence-related injury.

According to TEARS, Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships, the cycle of abuse is a result of one person in the relationship feeling the need to control the other through manipulation and power. Although, the relationship doesn’t start off abusive, the cycle can develop over time, and sadly, the victim will stay in the relationship despite the abuse.

Abusive relationships can begin at any age. Of course, when parents are abusive or neglectful to their children, those relationship patterns are often learned and played out later in adulthood. Furthermore, if children are witness to ongoing domestic violence between their parents, the cycle of abuse can become a pattern of relating that gets played out again and again.

Often, the victim is afraid of losing the relationship, even though it’s violent, and will sacrifice herself in order to maintain it. Furthermore, she likely knows too well the feelings of powerlessness, which gets played out again and again in the abusive relationship. In fact, powerlessness is a common contributor to dysfunctional and unhealthy relationships.

Although secrecy is often a major contributor to abusive relationships, there are many resources that can support a teen’s safe departure from an abusive relationship. Furthermore, parents, educators, counselors, and mental health professionals are often more than ready to help adolescents who are in a dangerous situation such as this.

 

References:

Understanding Dating Abuse. Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships. Retrieved on March 20, 2014 from: http://www.teensagainstabuse.org/index.php?q=understand

 

 

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