Survey finds 1 in 5 girls suffer domestic violence

// 5 December 2008

A survey completed by readers of teen magazine Bliss, carried out in partnership with Women’s Aid, has found that 1 in 5 girls aged 14 -15 and 1 in 4 aged 16 have experienced violence at the hands of someone they were dating, while nearly a quarter of fourteen year old girls have been forced to have sex or do something sexual against their will whilst dating.

These results are perhaps sadly unsurprising given the attitudes displayed by some boys and young men towards sex and the opposite sex, as Louise reported last month. This isn’t to say, of course, that all boys and young men are naturally violent or domineering, rather that some have absorbed sexist and damaging cultural messages about gender roles, sex and relationships, while peer pressure to conform to these norms no doubt plays a role in the behaviour of some of the individuals concerned. (I can’t find any information on the gender of the perpetrators but I don’t think it’s unfair, given the prevalence of heterosexual relationships among teenagers, to assume that the majority are male).

The survey also uncovered evidence that girls and young women are absorbing damaging messages about their role in relationships:

…the older girls are, the more likely they are to accept being bullied and controlled, whereas they are less likely to confide in parents and ask for help

We can only hope that planned improvements to sex and relationship education will help reverse this situation. In the meantime, Women’s Aid have set up a support service for children and teenagers affected by domestic violence, The Hide Out.

The Guardian has more.

National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247.

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 5 December 2008 at 3:58 pm

Yet another example of how gender neutral language deliberately hides the gender of individuals who commit violence against women and girls. Note too the gender of young women who have experienced male violence committed against them was not hidden.

This research also shows how boys and girls learn it is normal heterosexual behaviour for boys to use coercion, pressure and/or force in order to gain sexual access to young women. Of course not all boys and men are violent, but far too many boys and girls continue to accept male violence against women and girls as normal masculine behaviour rather than deliberate abuse of male power and enforcement of pseudo male sexual entitlement. Male peer pressure plays a central role in policing and regulating boys’ behaviour and beliefs concerning what is believed to be natural male sexual behaviour and enactments within heterosexual relationships. Because of these beliefs womens’ and girls’ right of sexual autonomy is discounted and ignored.

Excellent news Women’s Aid are tackling this hidden issue because it is hidden. Domestic violence by its name is seen as something which only affects a small percentage of adult women whereas in fact male violence against females affects girls, teenage women and adult women of all ages, ethncities, class ableness/disableness etc.

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