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Atlanta Journal

Date rape, violence not just girls' problem

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, Georgia, United States, August 27, 2001

San Francisco - Nearly one in 10 girls and one in 20 boys say they have been raped or experienced some other form of abusive violence on a date, according to a study released Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

Psychologist Diann Ackard and public health researcher Dianne Neumark-Sztainer of the University of Minnesota used the 1998 Minnesota Student Survey to assess the health attitudes, behaviors and experiences of more than 81,000 public high school students in Minnesota.

The ninth- and 12th-graders were asked questions about date violence and rape such as "Have you ever been the victim of violence on a date?" and "Have you ever been the victim of date rape?" Other questions covered topics ranging from emotional well-being to suicide and binge eating behavior.

The study is unusual in examining the experiences of boys, but Ackard said the state-administered survey didn't ask about the boys' dates. "So we don't know if it's boys dating boys, boys dating men, or girls being more forceful," she said.

The authors also found that adolescents who experienced date rape or date violence were more likely to develop eating disorders.

"Disordered eating behaviors may be a way for youth who have been abused to project the painful experience onto their body," explained Ackard. "They punish their body for the abuse or try to manipulate their body into becoming 'unattractive' to others."