No one likes to talk about it, but it's a fact: Dating abuse and violence among teens and 20somethings have reached alarming rates and if your daughter hasn't experienced it herself, she knows someone who has. Young men can be victims too, but it's a problem that overwhelmingly affects young women - one in three in the United States alone. And the warning signs - or red flags, if you will - creep in slowly.
There are ways parents can help, but the first step is understanding the problem. The following statistics come from LoveIsRespect.org, a teen dating violence initiative sponsored by the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline and Liz Claiborne Inc., and the Love is Not Abuse survey conducted in 2011 on college campuses, in cooperation with university health services.
- Some 43% of college women in the United States have had a violent or abusive dating experience; 52% say they know someone who has.
- Dating abuse is not a minor matter. One in five college-aged women have been physically harmed, raped or threatened with bodily harm by a boyfriend or ex.
- The consequences can be even more severe. The college survey was inspired by the case of University of Virginia senior Yeardley Love, a lacrosse player, whose ex-boyfriend, George Huguely, beat her to death. Huguely was convicted of second-degree murder in February 2012.
- Domestic abuse is a problem for the population at large, but for young women, ages 16-24, the rates are triple the average.
- Dating violence and abuse dramatically increase the risk of eating disorders, substance abuse and suicide.
- Some 80% of parents are unaware of the problem - and 67% of the high school students who were abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend never told a soul. Among college students, 57% say even now, they have troubling identifying dating abuse, and 58% say they would not know how to get help.