Relationship Characteristics and Mutual Violence

Sometimes only one of the partners in a teen romantic relationship is the victim of violence, while the other partner is the perpetrator. Alternatively, violence can be mutual, in that teens can be both victims and perpetrators of violence within a relationship.[1] The percentages of teens who are only victims, only perpetrators, or both victims and perpetrators have been shown to vary across different forms of violence or abuse.

One NIJ-funded study examined dating violence subgroups specifically among teens who reported dating within the past year. The sample included 3,745 teens from 10 middle schools and high schools throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Findings revealed that in the past year, teens reported the following:

  • Physical dating violence
    • 65.9 percent reported no physical dating violence.
    • 13.6 percent reported being only a victim of physical dating violence.
    • 4.7 percent reported being only a perpetrator of physical dating violence.
    • 15.8 percent reported being both a victim and a perpetrator of physical dating violence.
  • Psychological dating abuse
    • 50.4 percent reported no psychological dating abuse.
    • 23.8 percent reported being only a victim of psychological dating abuse.
    • 2.7 percent reported being only a perpetrator of psychological dating abuse.
    • 23.1 percent reported being both a victim and a perpetrator of psychological dating abuse.
  • Sexual coercion
    • 85.4 percent reported no sexual coercion.
    • 12.0 percent reported being only a victim of sexual coercion.
    • 1.4 percent reported being only a perpetrator of sexual coercion.
    • 1.2 percent reported being both a victim and a perpetrator of sexual coercion.
  • Cyber dating violence
    • 70.5 percent reported no cyber dating violence.
    • 17.6 percent reported being only a victim of cyber dating violence.
    • 3.3 percent reported being only a perpetrator of cyber dating violence.

8.6 percent reported being both a victim and a perpetrator of cyber dating violence.

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Another NIJ-funded study examined teen dating violence within a sample of 223 at-risk, low-income teens in central Virginia. The teens were identified as primarily African American (61 percent) or Caucasian (22 percent) and were involved in community-based services for at-risk youth. All the participants had been involved in at least one romantic relationship lasting one month or longer.

Teens who reported being victims of dating violence also were significantly more likely to report perpetrating dating violence against their partners. This finding was especially true for psychological and physical abuse. Couples most often engaged in less serious forms of psychological abuse (e.g., yelling or insults) and physical abuse (e.g., throwing something or slapping) toward one another.

Read an abstract and access the final report, A Review of Findings from Project D.A.T.E.: Risky Relationships and Teen Dating Violence Among At-Risk Adolescents.

Notes

[1] Mulford, Carrie, and Peggy C. Giordano, "Teen dating violence: A closer look at adolescent romantic relationships," NIJ Journal 261 (October 2008): 34-40.

Date Modified: May 30, 2014