Study finds LGBT adolescents are at higher risk for abusive relationships

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According to a study by the Urban Institute, LGBT adolescents are more likely to experience abusive relationships than their straight peers.

Dating Violence Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth is one of the first studies of its kind in that it focuses on dating abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The study surveyed 3,745 teens from grades seven to twelve in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. All were either currently in a romantic relationship or had been within the last year. For the purposes of the study, romantic relationships were defined as relationships with “a boyfriend or girlfriend, someone you have dated or are currently dating (e.g. going out or socializing without being supervised), someone who you like or love and spend time with, or a relationship that might involve sex.”

Of the 3,745 students, six percent identified as LGBT.

The study found significantly elevated rates of dating violence among LGB respondents:

Specifically, higher percentages of LGB youth reported being victimized by physical dating violence (43 percent), psychological dating abuse (59 percent), cyber dating abuse (37 percent), and sexual coercion (23 percent), than did heterosexual youth, who reported rates of 29, 46, 26, and 12 percent, respectively. Similarly, higher percentages of LGB than heterosexual youth reported perpetrating physical dating violence (33 percent), psychological dating abuse (37 percent), cyber dating abuse (18 percent), and sexual coercion (4 percent); by contrast, among heterosexual youth the rates were 20, 25, 12, and 2 percent, respectively.

While only eighteen transgender youth participated in the survey, they had the highest rate of abuse. 89 percent reported physical dating violence, 61 percent reported being sexually coerced, 59 percent experienced emotional abuse, and 56 percent reported digital abuse and harassment.

Meredith Dank, a senior research associate in the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center as well as one of the study’s authors, says that the report indicates the importance of helping teens in abusive relationships.

“Given such high rates of victimization, helping these young people is especially important since teen dating violence can be a stepping stone toward adult intimate partner violence,” said Dank.

The Urban Institute is a nonprofit research and educational organization based in Washington D.C. According to their website, the institute “builds knowledge about the nation’s social and fiscal challenges, practicing open-minded, evidence-based research to diagnose problems and figure out which policies and programs work best, for whom, and how.”

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