The prevalence of violence in the United States includes an estimated annual 3.2 million men and 1.9 million women reporting physical assaults, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey. Whether you're in a romance gone wrong or you know a close friend or family member in this situation, abusive relationships are serious issues that no one should ignore. While the physical side of abuse such as hitting or punching, may seem like the most obvious type of relationship violence, psychological and emotional forms are equally as devastating.
Who Gets Abused: Men, Women, Teens
If you have a mental picture of a battered wife or girlfriend as the poster child for relationship abuse, certainly, these are examples, but the picture is broader. Although women are more likely to experience relationship abuse at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends, they aren't the only group subject to intimate partner violence, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey. Men in heterosexual relationships and partners in same-sex couples can also experience intimate partner violence. Relationship abuse is not limited to adults; teens are also are subject to dating violence.
Types of Relationship Violence
Just because your partner doesn't hit, punch or slap you doesn't mean that relationship abuse isn't happening. Several different types of relationship abuse exist, which include physical forms as well as sexual and emotional forms of relationship abuse. Sexual violence happens when one person uses physical force against another to force a sexual act or to force a sexual act when the other person is unable to say "no" because of mental limitations or impairments from drug or alcohol use. Sexual violence also includes any unwanted sexual contact. Emotional abuse includes verbal threats, humiliation, forced isolation from friends or family and controlling behaviors.
Types of Stalking
Stalking by physically following or watching someone, sending unwanted gifts, making unwanted phone calls or sending unwanted electronic communications, is a type of relationship abuse. This doesn't mean that a person is stalking someone if, for example, one of the partners texts the other partner once or twice when the other person would rather that she didn't. Stalking includes repeated unwanted contact that is of a harassing or threatening nature. More than 38 percent of women and 31 percent of men report having been watched or followed, 26.4 percent of women and 11.6 percent of men received unwanted gifts and 78.8 percent of women and 75.9 percent of men had unwanted phone calls, according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
Risks for Teens
Although relationship abuse can occur at any age, teen and young adult women experience the highest amount of intimate partner violence out of any group. Young women in the 16- to 24-years-old age category have triple the amount of relationship abuse compared to the national average, according to the violence- prevention website Loveisrepsect.org. While abuse in any age group comes with a host of psychological issues, teen intimate-partner violence puts young people at a greater risk for eating disorders and substance abuse or for engaging in risky sexual behaviors into adulthood.