Nowadays when people think about abusive relationships, their minds may drift toward grainy images from the surveillance footage of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée (and now-wife) Janay Palmer in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. But abuse isn’t always physical with visible scars and bruises. And many victims are much younger than you may think.

One in three teens has experienced some form of “physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner,” according to loveisrespect, a project of both the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle, a nonprofit with offices in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. In addition, the 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reports that most victims of physical violence and/or stalking (69 percent of women and 53 percent of men) have experienced “some type of intimate partner violence for the first time before 25 years of age.”

“It’s something that crosses all ethnic groups and all socioeconomic backgrounds,” explains Cameka Crawford, chief communications officer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin, Texas. And it’s evolving. The prevalence of smartphones and social media has led to an increase in cyber or digital abuse, particularly among young people. Crawford counts someone demanding a partner’s social media passwords or sending derogatory messages on Facebook or Twitter among the warning signs. Digital abuse also includes constant texting, monitoring and sending unsolicited sexually explicit pictures or messages. And with apps that utilize GPS tracking, it’s easier than ever for stalkers to monitor their victims’ whereabouts

Read more in the February issue of EBONY Magazine.
 



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