COLUMBUS, Ohio - More than one-third of young adults who reported being victims of dating violence as teenagers had two or more abusive partners, a new study suggests.
The study involved 271 college students who recalled dating violence - including physical, sexual and psychological abuse - from ages 13 to 19.
Overall, nearly two-thirds of both men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years, which falls in line with other studies.
But it was surprising how many teen victims had two or more abusive partners, said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.
"For about one in three teens who were abused, it wasn't just one bad boyfriend or girlfriend. It may have been at least the start of a trend," Bonomi said.
The same patterns were not seen in similar population-based studies of adults, who tend to report abuse by a single partner, she said.
Well more than half of all teen victims reported multiple occurrences of abuse, with roughly 15 percent reporting 20 or more instances of some types of abuse.
"For most teens, dating violence is rarely reported as an isolated incident," said Bonomi, who is also an affiliate with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.
The study appears online in the journal BMC Public Health.
Among both males and females, psychological abuse - such as yelling, swearing, insults, controlling behavior, put-downs and name-calling - was the most common type of abuse.
One argument that violence researchers often hear is that behaviors like name-calling and insults aren't serious enough to be called abuse. But that's not true, Bonomi said.
"Studies in adults have shown that psychological abuse alone can be damaging to health," she said. She is currently studying whether the same is true for adolescents.
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|Contact: Amy Bonomi|
Ohio State University