Victims likely to talk when dating violence is witnessed

Jul 30, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to talk about the violence if a friend witnesses the incident, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and three other institutions conducted the study to understand what leads abused teens to seek help. The findings appear in the July issue of Violence Against Women, a scholarly journal that focuses on gender-based violence against women in all forms and across cultural and national boundaries.

"There are a number of possible reasons that teens are likely to talk about the violence if someone sees it," said Daniel Saunders, U-M professor of social work. "The witness to the violence might start the conversation out of concern or the victim might want to talk about their fear or embarrassment. Another possible reason is that the victim might feel comfortable discussing what has already been disclosed."

Fifty-seven victims of dating violence at an urban high school were asked questions about the worst episode of violence they experienced. Two-thirds of these episodes were observed by someone else.

"We tend to think of violence between intimates as being behind closed doors" said Beverly Black, the study's lead author and a professor at the University of Texas–Arlington School of Social Work. "We were surprised that in most cases someone witnessed the violence."

Most of those victimized said they talked with someone about the worst violence. Those who talked with someone always chose a friend. Only a small number talked with an adult as well.

The authors recommend that more information be available for teens on how best to respond to victimized friends. Current programs give specific do's and don't's for teens after an episode has ended. However, teens may need additional information on ways to respond immediately, the researchers said.

Another factor related to teen victims' willingness to talk about the violence was their view of the violence. If they viewed the perpetrator as angry or jealous, as opposed to controlling or protective, they were more likely to talk about the violence. The authors speculate that victims may be more frightened by angry and jealous forms of violence than by controlling forms. Alternatively, angry and jealous forms may be viewed as more "normal" or justified and thus less embarrassing to talk about.

The type and severity of violence and emotional hurt were not related to talking about the violence.

Black and Saunders collaborated with Richard Tolman from the University of Michigan, Arlene Weisz from Wayne State University, and Michelle Callahan of 360 Strategies in New York City.

Provided by University of Michigan

Explore further: Anti-apartheid hero, ex-Norway PM awarded 'Asian Nobel' prizes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

When rulers can't understand the ruled

Sep 15, 2014

Johns Hopkins University political scientists wanted to know if America's unelected officials have enough in common with the people they govern to understand them.

China arms itself for difficult 'war on pollution'

Jul 08, 2014

Having declared "war on pollution", China is arming itself with tougher weapons from new courts to daily fines and shutting down offenders altogether, in what analysts call promising steps but no guarantee ...

3Qs: The power and press of black celebrity

Jul 02, 2014

In her new book Black Celebrity, Racial Politics, and the Press, Sarah Jackson, an assistant professor of communication studies in the College of Arts, Media, and Design, examines how the mainstream and black press have covered ...

Recommended for you

Ig Nobel winner: Using pork to stop nosebleeds

8 hours ago

There's some truth to the effectiveness of folk remedies and old wives' tales when it comes to serious medical issues, according to findings by a team from Detroit Medical Center.

History books spark latest Texas classroom battle

Sep 16, 2014

As Texas mulls new history textbooks for its 5-plus million public school students, some academics are decrying lessons they say exaggerate the influence of Christian values on America's Founding Fathers.

Flatow, 'Science Friday' settle claims over grant

Sep 16, 2014

Federal prosecutors say radio host Ira Flatow and his "Science Friday" show that airs on many National Public Radio stations have settled civil claims that they misused money from a nearly $1 million federal ...

User comments : 0