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Child Abuse Negl. 2002 May;26(5):455-73.

Date violence and date rape among adolescents: associations with disordered eating behaviors and psychological health.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.



The goal of the study was to assess the prevalence of date violence and rape in adolescents, to examine associations between date violence and rape and disordered eating behaviors and psychopathology, and to determine if these associations remain significant after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics and other physical and sexual abuse by an adult.


A Minnesota school-based sample of 81,247 boys and girls in 9th and 12th grades completed the 1998 Minnesota Student Survey.


Overall, approximately 9% of girls and 6% of boys had experienced date violence or rape. Significant differences across race and grade were found. Date violence and rape is associated with higher rates of disordered eating behaviors and suicidal thoughts and attempts, and lower scores on measures of emotional well-being and self-esteem. Over 50% of youth reporting both date violence and rape also reported attempting suicide. Controlling for race and age, adolescents who have experienced both date violence and rape were more likely to use laxatives (OR: girls = 5.76; boys = 28.22), vomit (OR: girls = 4.74; boys = 21.46), use diet pills (OR: girls = 5.08; boys = 16.33), binge eat (OR: girls = 2.15; boys = 5.80), and have suicidal thoughts or attempts (OR: girls = 5.78; boys = 6.66) than their nonabused peers. These odds were weakened but remained significant after controlling for other abuse by an adult. Furthermore, a greater percentage of girls and boys who reported an abusive dating experience also reported repeat victimization (physical or sexual abuse perpetrated by an adult) when compared to their peers without an abusive dating experience.


Abusive experiences during dating relationships may disrupt normal developmental processes, including the development of a stable self-concept and integrated body image during adolescence. This disruption manifests itself through thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Further research should explore effects of adverse adolescent dating experiences.

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