A new report shows that 1 in 5 adolescent girls are the victims of physical or sexual abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. The study, which appeared in yesterday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, also shows that such violence is often associated with numerous health problems. It is the most comprehensive study examining intimate partner violence among adolescents and the first to ask adolescents if they’ve ever been the victim of such abuse.
Dr. Jay Silverman, a professor at Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the report, said the findings highlight the need for more services and prevention programs for those affected by intimate partner violence. He also calimed that the most striking finding was the link between violence and dangerous behavior. A 1999 survey, for example, showed links between victims of sexual violence and bulimia, the practice of unprotected sex, and teen pregnancy. Girls who had experienced both physical and sexual abuse were also more likely to report sexual activity before age 15, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts and eating disorders.
According to estimates by the Justice Department, more than 1.5 million women experience physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the United States every year.