Protecting our Daughters from Abuse

Screen Shot 2015 03 03 at 3.37.40 PM1 285x300 Protecting our Daughters from AbuseAs parents, we send our adolescent and young adult daughters into a world that is often filled with rich opportunity. And while our goal as parents is to nurture them into God’s design and purpose for her, we must also take captive the warning Jesus gives his disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves, so be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.” (Matthew 10) Training your daughter to know that “wolves”—like sexual predators—are in her midst can help her wisely navigate her social and romantic life. With the information provided below, I want to encourage you to teach these realities to your daughter so that she is armed with methods that can protect her from harassment, date rape, and other violations to her dignity.

As Maya Angelou once wrote, “When we know better, we do better.” Let’s keep her from becoming one of these tragic statistics so she can pursue—unharmed—the purpose she alone was born to fulfill.

Alarming Statistics on Teenage Girls & Young Women

  • The highest incidence of sexual assault happens to girls between the ages of 16-19 years of age.
  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence—almost triple the national average.
  • Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% of those ages 16-19 years old.
  • With regard to physical violence, 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the US is a victim of physical, sexual or emotional and verbal abuse.
  • Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18 years old and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.
  • The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence. Violent behavior begins typically between the ages of 12 and 18 years of age.
  • Nearly all—99%—of forcible rapes involves a female victim. 54% of these incidences go unreported.
  • Rape is the fastest growing crime
  • Only 2% of the time is the rape not true, just as in other violent crimes.
  • One in 6 girls is raped her first 15 weeks of college.
  • 61% of girls will develop an eating disorder if sexually abused or assaulted.
  • 67% of those who were sexually abused in childhood go on to engage in domestically violent relationships in adulthood.
  • 90% of those with addictions were sexually abused.
  • 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
  • One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a girlfriend or boyfriend.
  • 70% of those ages 20-24 have been victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • Nearly half (43%) dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
  • College students are NOT equipped to deal with dating abuse —57% say it is difficult to identify; 58% say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.
  • One in 3 (36%) dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email, or social network passwords. And these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.

Lack of Awareness

  • Only 33% of teens who were in violent relationships ever told anyone about the abuse.
  • 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue/admit they didn’t know it is an issue.
  • Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.
  • Almost all abuse starts with psychological abuse. Those who perpetrate another are usually attempting to gain advantage of someone—a girl, in this case—by making them feel sorry for them. Boys in adolescence usually do this by claiming that they will hurt or kill themselves if the relationship does not go their way. To have the relationship go their way, the girl may feel manipulated into sexual acts, forced to continue the relationship, and so on. Jealousy and suspicion are a part of the dynamic adolescent and young adult men typically use to gain the pity and sympathy of the girls they date.

(Statistics are gathered from RAINN and Darkness to Light.)

Former Shelterwood Academy Therapist:

Mary Ellen McDonald-Mann, MS, LCSW
President of Mann Counseling Group & Co-founder of Last Battle, LLC

Video: Mary Ellen presents her new book From Pain to Power