When I was a young adult, I was in an abusive relationship.
I didn’t realize it then, of course. I was swept off my feet and completely giddy, as most new relationships tend to begin. My boyfriend seemed equally infatuated, spending money taking me to expensive restaurants and holding my hand through walks in the park. I was so swept away that I didn’t notice when he slowly became emotionally abusive, and started stalking me by texting and calling me constantly, demanding answers to emails immediately.
I didn’t notice what was going on until he became physically abusive. I was 22 at the time and considered myself a savvy young career woman: college-educated and up-and-coming. Dating violence wasn’t even on my radar. I learned the hard way that relationship violence is a shocking reality for people of all ages, particularly teenagers.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011 study, nearly one in 10 U.S. high school students nationwide has been hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a dating partner. When you extend the statistic to include emotional, sexual, and verbal abuse as well, the number jumps to one in three. Twenty-five percent of high school girls report being victims of physical or sexual abuse.
Moreover, about one in five women and nearly one in seven men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17, also according to the CDC.
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