BACKGROUND - Little research has addressed the impact of dating violence and forced-sex victimization and perpetration on adolescent well-being. In this cross-sectional study, we provide (1) estimates of severe dating violence (SDV) by victimization and perpetration status, (2) estimates of lifetime forced-sex victimization and perpetration, (3) demographic and health behaviors correlated with SDV, and (4) associations between SDV and forced sex and well-being as assessed by (1) health-related quality of life (H-R QOL) and (2) life satisfaction measures.
METHODS - We used a stratified cluster sample of 5414 public high school students, grades 9 through 12, who responded to the 1997 self-administered South Carolina Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
RESULTS - Nearly 12% of adolescents self-reported SDV as a victim (7.6%) or a perpetrator (7.7%), and SDV rates (victimization/perpetration combined) are higher in girls (14.4%) than boys (9.1%). Race, aggressive behaviors, substance use, and sexual risk-taking are correlates of SDV. Among young women, SDV victimization, not perpetration, was associated with recent poor H-R QOL and suicide ideation or attempts, but not lower life-satisfaction scores. Among young men, SDV perpetration, not victimization, was strongly associated with poor H-R QOL and suicide attempts, and lower scores for all domains of life satisfaction.
CONCLUSIONS - This research provides evidence that SDV and forced sex are associated with poor H-R QOL, low life-satisfaction scores, and adverse health behaviors in adolescent female victims and male perpetrators. Screening for dating violence is needed to identify and intervene early to reduce the impact of dating violence.