By Meisha McDaniel
According to a study by Teenage Research Unlimited, nearly 80 percent of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser.
“I thought the abuse in my relationship was tough love when I was younger,” Tiffany Burns, a 21 year-old, said, reflecting on her abusive relationship during adolescence. “When you’re young and naïve, it’s so hard to get out.”
According to CBS News, 30 percent of young women ages 15-24 are in an abusive relationship.
“I’ve seen more prevalent cases in the last five years. Young ladies are more tolerant of more behaviors that should not be tolerated from young men,” said Cassandra Smith, a social worker based at Daniel Webster Broadcasting and Digital Media Magnet High School.
Why do so many young women today end up in abusive relationships?
Cases show similar patterns of abuse in the household or young women lacking father figures.
“My dad was just a terrible jerk. I had that problem dating older men, and I always found myself in awkward situations,” Madi Barbee, a Webster senior, said. “But luckily I don’t have that problem anymore.”
Smith said girls and younger women are particularly vulnerable.
“Young girls need to feel validated, so they seek older partners. If you’re a young woman — say, 16 — an older man will still prey on their vulnerability,” Smith said.
Teen males also fall victim to domestic violence.
“Girls also take advantage of boys, but there isn’t as much as evidence. One of 20 males will report an incident on dating violence, and that’s unfortunate,” Smith said.
For further information, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE or visit http://www.thehotline.org.