Disproportionality of Teen Dating Violence

By: EMMA CHASTAIN

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month - Center for Behavioral Health

I’m sure you, as a reader of news and journalism such as this, are well aware of the violent social inequalities of the LGBTQIA+ community. In a previous article, I discussed the overall prominence of teen dating violence and how it affects people. However, TDV is already hardly discussed enough, that its concentration within this community is likely flying just as far under the average person’s radar, as it did mine. However, I began to consider this level of inequality after I participated in the Kyle Hyland Foundation’s educational presentation. There were two speakers: Jamey Eells-Booth, Youth Services Coordinator at Solano Pride, and Melina Osmundson, a young volunteer. They discussed the ratio of LGBTQIA+ youth that are in the statistics of TDV and why so many more of them are victims. 

Something from the presentation of February 24th, that Jamey Eells-Booth brought to the audience’s attention should be kept in the back of your mind for the remainder of this article: “Those are just people who were willing to answer honestly,” this really should be your lense whenever reading data from studies, especially those of teen subjects. How many more victims are out there?

The other presenter, Melina Osmundson addressed different types of abuse within LGBT+ relationships that may not be as prevalent outside of that community. “Trying to use a benefit to control someone” is called “love bombing”. This may be an older or more familially accepted partner, using favors like shelter to force their partner to rely on them and make it harder for them to leave due to abuse. Outing can also be a method of coercion by abusers as something to hold over their victim’s head if they wanted to leave or come forward about being abused.

Eells-Booth said “LGBT teens may have trouble recognizing” that they are victims. The internet is an environment that is commonly hostile for LGBT+ teens. Recognizing that TDV can be held within this space through Cyber abuse is a newly urgent issue. This type of abuse harms beyond the constraints of sexuality, with 26% of heterosexual teens experiencing it. However alarming that amount is, the fact that 37% of LGBT+ being victims of it should leave a proportionally harsher mark. 

Proportionality is a big issue when it comes to violence in teenage communities, whether it be sexuality, gender, religiously, or racially based. The fact that there is an issue of TDV of a third of the entire teenage population and that overall, LGBT+ youth experience it at much higher rates, should baffle you. 

The CDC has an abundance of information regarding TDV, including that 17% of LGB and 14% of teens unsure of their sexuality are victims of physical violence and almost the same amount (1% less of LGB teens)  have been sexually abused by their significant other. In a study done by the Urban Institute of youth from 7th grade to 12th grade, 59% of the LGBT respondents admitted to being victims of emotional abuse. This percentage alone is higher than the overall percentage of TDV victims. 

Why don’t more of these victims come forward about their abuse? Often enough, LGBT+ teens live in an environment that is either hostile towards people of their community, they haven’t come out yet, or they have lived firsthand with the lack of LGBT+ affirming outlets, resources, counselors, or parental figures.

Lesbian and Bisexual women experience rape much more than straight women. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 24, and LGBT+ youth experience contemplation 3 times more than straight youth. And, according to the Trevor Project, LGB youth that comes from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than those of more accepting homes. 

Osmundson shined a light on how the shortage of LGBT+ educational resources on things like what a healthy relationship should look like when they said “A lot of times LGBT you might not prioritize these things”, these things being health over toxicity. How are these teens supposed to learn, when they are left out of the lesson? Eells-Booth similarly called out the socially connected problems that LGBT+ youth face when they said, “Any type of love is better than no love at all” raising another question: How far do we as a culture have to excommunicate others from the experience of healthy love? 

Two things have been made clear. First: less affirming environments lead to the search for love without standards—external harm leading to external harm. And second: less affirming environments lead to higher rates of suicide attempts—external harm leading to self-harm. The interconnectedness of it all is undeniable. 

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