Dating Violence: When Does it Begin and for how Long?

by omart1 on April 14, 2014 - 10:49pm

Domestic violence is a topic that is actually quite secretive. Most people keep their experiences of domestic violence to themselves, mainly out of fear. Contrary to popular belief, violence in a relationship does not only happen to females. According to Amy E. Bonomi et. al., past studies have concurred that a high rate of domestic violence happens to females and males (2012). 44% to 88% of females and 36% of males have reported dating violence. However, past studies only really focused on sexual and physical abuse in a relationship and did not report on how many abusive partners each victim found themselves in a relationship with. This study focuses on all types of abuse – sexual, physical, and psychological, the frequency of the abuse, and the age at which it first occurred. In order to do this study, the sample used was chosen from Ohio State University, ages 18-21. They were asked to participate in a one-time online survey to asses dating violence experiences from ages 13-19 and the health associated with these experiences. However, the study only had 341 students respond, which meant only 46.7% of the chosen people actually participated. Although the results of the study could have probably been a little more accurate if more people answered, the number could seemingly well to identify with a larger group of people, even though it was such a small sample. Out of the 341 people that did respond, 44 were excluded because they were older than 21 or because they claimed they have never had dating or sexual partners between the ages of 13 and 19. Therefore, only a total of 271 people answered (190 females and 107 males). For each dating violence type, each person was asked the number of occurrences, the number of abusive partners, and the age of the first time it happened.

Dating violence is a prevalent problem. It runs rampant in our country, and around the world. According to Bonomi et. al., between 9% and 38% of adolescents has been abused in the past year by a partner they were in a relationship with, by someone they trusted and cared for. It seems that there is a symmetrical trend in the genders for psychological and physical abuse. However, sexual abuse tends to be higher in females in recent relationships among young adults. As you may guess, dating abuse does not just affect the victims’ body. It has lasting effects. Domestic abuse is associated with extreme mental problems as well, including depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, and risky sexual behavior. For example, Bonomi et. al. cites a study of 8,000 predominantly African Americans and Hispanic teens from New York City. The study showed that dating violence was among the top reason for attempted suicide for females. It is a serious problem that no one seems to know how to solve. The sample size of this study seemed to be a bit skimpy. As a college student, I tend to immediately delete the emails I receive regarding surveys. The people conducting the study should have been more aware of the small amount of students that would actually complete the survey and be eligible to be used. They should have chosen a larger number of subjects, expecting the number to actually be quite a bit higher. Out of 730 people, only 271 surveys were actually used, meaning only 37% actually participated. Even though the subject group was small, the amount of people that admitted to experiencing domestic abuse between ages 13 and 19 was through the roof. 64.7% percent of women and 61.7% of men said they had experienced any type of abuse in their relationship. The type of psychological dating abuse that seemed most common was insults/yelling/swearing with 42.6% of females and 43.9% of males experiencing it. According to the results of the study, most people had only experienced abuse with 1 person, which a few experiencing it with 2 or more. Most people answered that it has occurred 2-5 times.  The age at first occurrence was not clustered into one specific period between 13 and 19. However, certain types of violence occurred at different ages. For example, the majority of females said they were pressured into sex due to threats or physical force first experienced this between 16 and 17 while 44.7% reported they first experience controlling behavior between 13 and 15. All in all, domestic violence is a problem in young adults. Females and males are being victimized by their partners. They are being belittled, broken down, harmed, and forced into a life of fear, and it just is not right.


Bonomi, A. E., Anderson, M. L., Nemeth, J. (2012). Dating violence victimization across the teen years: abuse frequency, number of abusive partners, and age at first occurrence. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 637-646. 


Your post definitely strikes a chord with me, as I can relate to the experience of being in an abusive relationship. While I was never physically hit, I certainly felt the psychological affects of emotional abuse. Domestic violence is such a tricky topic because like you said, so many people keep it a secret. It can be really hard to tell others what is going on in your relationship, especially because a large majority of the time the person who is being abused feels like it is their fault or that they deserve it, so they don’t say anything. It can be pretty defeating to be put down and belittled every time you speak, so after a while you just stop trying. Also, from a personal standpoint I can say that while I was in this relationship I felt trapped and so I didn’t think anyone could get me out of it even if I did try. There needs to be more education on abusive relationships and how to get help because this is such a prevalent problem in the United States (as well as the rest of the world).