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The effects of an abusive relationship have long been known to potentially last for years, but new research is exploring some non-traditional forms of abuse, such as online interaction and texting.
A Michigan State University study found nearly 70 percent of girls and almost 60 percent of boys aged 13 to 19 have experienced some form of dating abuse.
Nearly 600 students participated in the research, which appears in the journal BMC Public Health.
Looking at non-physical dating violence, researchers found it occurs more frequently than physical or sexual abuse. Behavior such as yelling or being repeatedly insulted falls into this category.
“Researchers found non-physical dating
violence occurs more frequently.”
Despite the less threatening manner of other attacks, experts say non-physical abuse can be damaging in the same manner. It can negatively impact the health and behavior of young people just as a physical assault would.
Girls who are victims of physical abuse were four times more likely to develop an eating disorder or begin smoking than girls who were not victimized. Bonomi’s study shows victims of non-physical abuse were nearly as likely to experience the same problems.
Additionally, there is an increased risk of depression and engaging in risky sexual behavior.
Among males in the study, the ones who encountered physical abuse were not found more likely to smoke compared to non-victims, whereas the victims of non-physical abuse were more likely to take up smoking.
“Often an argument in society is that abuse that is not physical or sexual really doesn’t matter,” said lead researcher Amy Bonomi, Ph.D. “Is it really harmful, for example, if I call my partner a bad name? Or if I’m harassing or stalking them with text messages? Well, we’ve shown that it does have a negative effect on health.”
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