A study published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday has shed light on the prevalence of teen dating violence. According to the study, one in ten males who dated reported violence in their relationships. For females, it was one in five - twice previous estimates.
When 21-year-old college senior Kristin McCovery was in high school, she was a beaming confident go-getter. In ninth grade she started dating a fellow runner.
"We got into an argument over I guess one of my times being slower than it was before - and I said something and he choked me by the water fountain," McCovery said.
Monday's report found that teens who experienced dating violence were more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors: attempted suicide, binge drinking and drug use.
Stephanie Nilva is the executive director of Day One -- a group that works to prevent teen dating violence. Nilva says there's likely a much greater incidence of dating violence than reflected in the study.
"Reporting in these areas is very low," said Nilva. "There are a lot of reasons that young people won't come forward. They don't trust authority figures, they are fearful that they will be blamed."
It's a fear echoed by McCovery's own experience.
"I felt really violated, I was scared," said McCovery. "I didn't feel like I could go to anyone to talk about it. I knew that I should, and I knew that I had people to talk to, but I just felt like I couldn't tell them. So I just kept it to myself."
When she was a sophomore, McCovery's boyfriend sexually assaulted her. When he did it again her senior year, she brought charges against him.
"I'm really happy that it's no longer part of my life," said McCovery. "I can be me, completely."
More than 60 percent of school guidance counselors have had to support someone experiencing dating violence in the past year, but fewer than 20 percent of schools have a protocol for schools to follow.
Day One can be reached through its Crisis Hotline: 1-800-214-4150
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