A National Descriptive Portrait of Adolescent Relationship Abuse: Results From the National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence

Bruce G Taylor, Elizabeth A Mumford
Journal of Interpersonal Violence 2016, 31 (6): 963-88
This article reports results from the National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence (STRiV) for 12- to 18-year-old youth (n = 1,804). STRiV provides the first nationally representative household survey focused on adolescent relationship abuse (ARA), covering perpetration and victimization. Among respondents (37%) reporting current- or past-year dating, 69% reported lifetime ARA victimization (63% lifetime ARA perpetration). Although psychological abuse was most common for these youth (more than 60%), the rates of sexual abuse (18%) and physical abuse victimization (18%), as well as 12% reporting perpetrating physical abuse and/or sexual abuse (12%) were substantial as well. Other than differences by age and gender, ARA rates were consistent by race/ethnicity, geographic region, urbanicity, and household characteristics, highlighting the importance of universal prevention programs. Compared with youth aged 15 to 18, those 12 to 14 years old reported lower rates of psychological and sexual ARA victimization. Similarly, we found lower ARA perpetration rates for those 12 to 14. We found no gender differences for ARA victimization but found that girls perpetrated more physical ARA than boys. Girls aged 15 to 18 reported perpetrating moderate threats/physical violence at more than twice the rate of younger girls and 3 times the rate compared with boys aged 15 to 18; girls aged 15 to 18 reported perpetrating more than 4 times the rate of serious psychological abuse than boys 15 to 18. Finally, these data document the significant positive correlation between ARA victimization and perpetration. Findings suggest that when working with youth in prevention services, interventions should not be designed for monolithic groups of "victims" or "perpetrators."

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