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Domestic Violence in Teen Relationships

DomesticViolence in Teen Relationships

DomesticViolence in Teen Relationships

Violencein intimate relationships has long been considered an issue foradults, but significant evidence show that abuse is also prevalentamong youths. Abuse in teen relationships is a severe social problemaffecting one in every ten young adults. Domestic violence can occurin the form of physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, and sexualabuse (Carlson, 2013). Currently, the rate of marriage has steeplydeclined as young people are dating for extended periods as comparedto previous generations (Paludi, 2011). Therefore, these changingpatterns can be attributed to violence instigated by intimatepartners hence, the teens end up terminating the relationshipsinstead of proceeding to long-term commitment. On the other hand,young people have relations that are similar to those formed byadults such as emotional dependency and sexual intimacy (Bowen &ampWalker, 2015). The high number of teenage pregnancies also serves asan indication of adult-like relationship behavior among young people.On the other hand, the young adults have limited knowledge andexperiences about the right and wrong when dealing with intimatepartners thus, it puts them in a vulnerable position (Bowen &ampWalker, 2015). Accordingly, domestic violence in teenagerelationships is attributed to social, cultural, and developmentalfactors, but some youths are more susceptible to abuse due topregnancy, a history of violence, incarceration, and substance use,which can result in emotional problems and unhealthy copingmechanisms.


Culturalfactors have been linked to domestic violence as some ethnic groupsare more susceptible to abuse due to their customs and beliefs.Therefore, teenagers from some communities are more willing to acceptthat domestic violence is part of a relationship thus, they hardlyseek help, report the abuse, or ultimately leave to avoid furthermistreatment (Cutter-Wilson &amp Richmond, 2011). For example, mostpeople in African-American communities believe that domestic violenceis a family matter that should not be reported, but handledinternally. Then again, gender roles in most communities designateresponsibilities and social rank based on gender. In most cases, themales are given a superiority and control over their femalecounterparts. On the other hand, the women are encouraged to besubmissive and dependent on the men. Moreover, the female is viewedas the person who is responsible for maintaining a healthyrelationship and being the caretaker. Thus, the male teenagers maymistake these roles and exert their power on their partners throughviolence (Cutter-Wilson &amp Richmond, 2011). Similarly, the youngwomen may misunderstand submissiveness and instead accept abuse aspart of the relationship. Someyoung victims may also be afraid to speak up due to cultural beliefs,which mean that they will continue to be abused. Then again, teensare more accepting and dismissive of the consequences of domesticviolence(Cutter-Wilson &amp Richmond, 2011).Besides,the young people are more likely to experience school or worksabotage from their partner as a form of exerting control.

Developmentalconsiderations can also contribute to domestic violence inrelationships during adolescence. Many studies have extensivelydiscussed the link between abuse at home and domestic violence inteenage relations. In most cases, the young people who grow up inabusive homes are more likely to ignore the consequences of domesticviolence. As such, they rarely report cases of abusive as they tendto view it as a regular occurrence in intimate relationships (Finley,2013). Some teenagers tend to be shy or isolated and develop lowself-esteem, which makes them susceptible to dating violence. Suchyoung people are less likely to report cases of abuse. Likewise, themedia today places a lot of emphasis on body image, which hasnarrowed the definition of attractiveness only to include skinnyindividuals. However, some of the teenagers may not fit in thiscategory, and they end up developing low self-esteem andpsychological problems, which will affect them even in relationships.Therefore, they may be willing to accept abusive partners due to theperception that they may not deserve better (Finley, 2013).

Thesociety today presents and glorifies images of violence through themedia, which may influence the young people’s perception of genderroles in relationships. For instance, music and movies send messagesthat tend to distort the views of intimate relationships because menare placed in a position of power over females. On the other hand,the society seems to accept violence (Finley, 2013). It is common tofind that bystanders witnessing a case of violence do not intervene,report the abuse, or discourage it. The youths have less mobility asthey lack the freedom to change their residence or school to avoidabusive partners. Furthermore, the legal system is not easilyaccessible hence, the teens do not seek help from the lawenforcement agencies. Then again, about 82 percent of teens involvedin relationship violence do not consider it to be an issue or they donot know that it is a problem (Finley, 2013). For example, almostevery teenager ignores verbal abuse as they assume that name callingand teasing is a normal part of having a relationship. Nevertheless,experts show that these behaviors can result in verbal abuse andaggravate to more serious forms of domestic violence.

Teenagegroups susceptible to domestic violence in relationships

Teenagepregnancy is linked with intimate partner violence, particularlyphysical and sexual abuse (Carlson, 2013). Early and unwantedpregnancy leads to financial, health, and emotional problems.Therefore, the young parents may suffer from anxiety and stress,which can lead to violence, particularly if they lack proper copingmechanisms. Statistics show that pregnant teens are four to six timesmore likely to experience dating violence as compared to their peers.Research has found that young parents, particularly the mothers, havea higher prevalence rate of abuse from a partner. Researchers alsoshow that almost 70 percent of young mothers have experienced abusefrom their partner at one point in their relationship. Additionally,between 16 and 37 percent of these individuals experienced domesticviolence when they were pregnant (Lala, Straussner, &amp Isralowitz,2013).

Therate of domestic violence is also high among young offenders.Juvenile criminal activities are serious, but declining problems inthe country. However, some young offenders are still beingincarcerated, especially for drug-related crimes. Once released,these youths try to reintegrate into the society by forming differentrelationships including intimate ones. Nonetheless, the formerconvicts may have been exposed to a higher level of violence, or theylack proper social skills due to incarceration. Therefore, they maybe prone to abuse their intimate partners or overlook cases ofviolence in their relationships. Research indicates that 92 percentof formerly incarcerated young people experience some form ofdomestic abuse and violence as compared to their counterparts whohave never been accused of any crime (Finley, 2013).

Impactsof Domestic Violence

Datingviolence has severe short-term and long-term consequences on both thevictims and the perpetrators. Adolescence is a critical phase whereyoung adults begin to build and form intimate relations (Carlson,2013). During this time, teenagers learn about relationships andcreate the knowledge base, which forms the foundation for theirfuture interactions. Therefore, it an influential phase that affectsone’s behavior during maturity.Asteens develop emotionally, their experiences in relationships have asignificant impact on their life. Hence, unhealthy, violent, orabusive relations can have severe repercussion on a developing teen.Youths who encounter dating violence are more likely to suffer fromanxiety and depression due to the problems they face. Both thevictims and perpetrators can be involved in antisocial behaviors. Theabuse affects the emotional and social well-being of the teens, whichcan make them isolated and end important relations with other peoplein the society.

Domesticviolence causes stress or depression due to exposure to extreme andthreatening situations. In most cases, the events of domesticviolence are often uncontrollable and unpredictable thus, it deniesthe victim the sense of security and safety (Carlson, 2013). When theviolence continues the victim becomes clinically impaired to carryout daily activities. The victims can also have suicidal thoughts asthey may consider death to be the only way to escape the abuse,especially if they are afraid of the perpetrator. Additionally, thevictims may cause self-harm to gain some level of control over theirpersonal environment and release tension (Paludi, 2011). However,such actions may not always be linked to suicidal thoughts, but somecases they result in serious harm or death. Nevertheless, the effectscan manifest in the form of trauma immediately after the abuse orlater in life. Furthermore, the emotional and psychological problemsaffect concentration thus, resulting in poor academic performance.

Copingwith intimate partner abuse can be overwhelming for young adultsmainly because the perpetrator takes away the victim’s control overvarious situations in their life. Thus, teenagers may end upself-medicating or using drugs and alcohol to cope with thedevastating emotions. For example, these young adults are more likelyto use drugs and alcohol. In most cases, millions of people uselegally obtained substances such as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs,especially on social occasions without experiencing any negativeeffects (Lala, Straussner, &amp Isralowitz, 2013). Nevertheless,these substances have severe impacts on relationships. Besides, theproblem worsens when people start using other illegal substances,which will escalate the problems they are experiencing in therelationship. Approximately 40 percent of people start drinking atthe age of 14, and later develop alcohol dependence thus, the issuesassociated with domestic violence only serve to worsen the situation.Additionally, statistics show that almost half of the violent deathsincluding suicides, homicides, and accidents are linked to alcoholuse (Lala, Straussner, &amp Isralowitz, 2013).


Consequently,preventing violence in teenage relationships is crucial because ithas positive short-term and long-term benefits, since young peoplewho experience abuse in their relationships are likely to continuewith the trend even in adulthood. Thus, it is important to createawareness about domestic violence (Paludi,2011).Researchhas shown that demanding and controlling often precede intimatepartner violence in teenage relationships. With time, the behaviormay change to include different forms of violence. Therefore,the teenagers will learn to recognize the signs of potential domesticviolence. Subsequently, they can engage in early intervention andprevention programs to decrease the prevalence of domestic violence.Lack of awareness can be linked to the way the society oftenconceptualizes intimate partner violence as something that can onlyoccur in adult relationships of within family setups. Creatingawareness should include educating the teens on how to form andmaintain healthy relationships that will not result in abuse(Paludi,2011). The young adults are still learning essential skills in lifeincluding how to interact with others, especially in intimaterelationships. Therefore, the adolescence stage is a time to promotethe idea that healthy relationships are vital for individual andsocial wellbeing.

Fortunately,the government has enacted initiatives to prevent and stop the casesof dating violence. For example, the Pregnancy Assistance Fundprovided by the Office of Adolescent Health helps to improve theprovision of services to pregnant teens and young parents who areexperiencing domestic violence. The social workers have also tried toalleviate the problem of domestic violence by dealing with substanceabuse as one of the primary contributing factors(Paludi,2011). The service providers are essential in helping families proneto abuse due to addiction problems. Nevertheless, when consideringthe prevalence of domestic in teenage relationships and the change inthe structure of relationships today, the communities mustcollaborate to ensure that the victims have access to resourcesnecessary to help them heal.

Inconclusion, intimate partner abuse in teenage relationships isprevalent due to social, cultural, and developmental factors. Somecommunities consider domestic issues to be problems that should besolved within the family. Additionally, developmental factors such aslack of social interaction skills, isolation, or low self-esteemaffect a person’s perception of domestic violence. Therefore, suchindividuals condone abusive relationships because they believe thatthey do not deserve better. However, some teens are more susceptibleto violence due to various conditions in their lives. Teenagepregnancy increases the likelihood of violence as statistics showthat young parents encounter emotional and financial strain. In somecases, teenagers lack proper coping strategies, which results inviolence in the relationship. On the other hand, some victims startengaging in unhealthy behavior such as drugs and alcohol use as a wayto handle their problems. It is important to increase awareness toensure that teenagers can recognize the signs of abuse and learn howto cope with issues whenever they arise without resulting toviolence. Even so, domestic violence in teenage relationships isoften overlooked hence, the subject should have the same level ofattention as intimate partner abuse in adult relationships.


Bowen,E., &amp Walker, K. (2015). Thepsychology of violence in adolescent romantic relationships.New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Carlson,B. E. (2013). Intimate Partner Violence. Encyclopediaof Social Work.

Cutter-WilsonE &amp Richmond, T. (2011). Understanding teen dating violence:practical screening and intervention strategies for pediatric andadolescent healthcare providers. CurrentOpinionin Pediatrics,23(4):379-83.

Finley,L. L. (Eds.). (2013). Encyclopediaof domestic violence and abuse.Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO.

Lala,S., Straussner, A. &amp Isralowitz, R. (2013). Alcoholand Drug Problems: Overview. Encyclopediaof Social Work.

Paludi,M. A. (2011). Thepsychology of teen violence and victimization.Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.