Economic exploitation also includes the "threatening to take money, forcing a date to pay solely for items that are to be shared, or stealing money or property," (Jackson & Oates 1998:92). These forms of abuse are much harder to identify and combat, and in many cases go unnoticed within large bodies of previous research.
Identifying the real victims within teen dating violence can also prove to be a challenge for modern research. In traditional thinking, construed by the facts of domestic violence experienced by older generations in a married or committed relationship, females in violent relationships tend to be the focus of the abuse over their male counterparts (Holt & Espelage 2005). Therefore, many assume that this is the same within the context of teen dating violence. So, many programs and prevention initiatives have focused on helping the female victim of abuse, while largely under-estimating the need to combat abuses suffered by male teens within the context of their relationships. However, numbers of male and female abuse victims in terms of both physical and emotional abuse are relatively close. Some studies have even found that within the context of teen relationships, females tend more to be the perpetrator of the violence than the male within the relationship (James et al. 2000). More recent research specifically conducted on teen populations involved with abuse has shown relatively similar numbers of female to male victims. One study found that "Female victimization rates reportedly range from 7-18%," while "adolescent boys do report sexual violence as well estimating ranges from 5-14%," (Howard et al. 2007 "Prevalence and psychosocial correlates of forced sexual intercourse among U.S. high school adolescents": 631). This a trend that seems specifically unique to teen dating violence in comparison to traditional populations of domestic violence which look more specifically at married couples. In such research conducted specifically within the teen population, "victimization appears undifferentiated by gender and is associated with risk behaviors for both male and female high school students," (Howard et al. 2007 "Psychological factors associated with reports of physical dating violence among U.S. adolescents females":312). This proves unique to teens and then allows researchers to better understand the teen population and formulate intervention and prevention programs. Since "males and females were victimized at approximately the same rate," this also leads to trouble in defining pure patterns within the teen population that would help strengthen such initiatives (Holt & Espelage 2005:312). Therefore, research has shown that the wide population of both male and female teens being subjected to abuse through teen dating violence will be a hard demographic to tackle.
Other than immediate physical ramifications produced by teen dating violence, there is thoughts that compile significant emotional reactions to such violence that can last well after the violent relationship has ended. A teen's behavior can be negatively affected after exposure to violence within the context of their relationship. Risk factors of this change in behavior can include an increased sexual promiscuity and poor protection habits with later partners after the end of the abusive teen relationship, "Overall, being a victim of dating violence was associated with reports of sad/hopelessness feelings and engagement in high-risk sexual practices, specifically, recent multiple sex partners and unprotected sex," (Howard et al. 2007:314). These behaviors can have serious negative impacts on the teen's life. Increased sexual promiscuity can lead to increased risk for contracting diseases as well as teen pregnancies. Feelings of low self-esteem stemming from an abusive relationship can also manifest themselves in disorders which place the teen in serious physical danger as well, seen in the case of potential increased risks for eating disorders. Research has shown that "Dating violence is associated with outcomes such as sexual risk behavior, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, substance abuse and suicidality," (McKay 2002:112). These are all serious risk factors within violent teen relationships.
Other research has posited the concept for increased depression and anxiety within victims of teen dating violence, which is the focus of this particular study. Although there is a limited body of research to bank on this concept, it still has been examined to show a correlation between feelings of depression and anxiety to being in a violent or abusive teen relationship. According to research, "Dating violence is a pervasive form of victimization within our society, and has been linked to deleterious outcomes including depression, anxiety, and physical injury," (Holt & Espelage 2005: 310). These are typical emotional responses also witnessed in more traditional and thoroughly studied forms of domestic violence. Teens experience a number of stimuli that can lead to depressive thoughts, and so correlating teen dating violence specifically to later feelings of depression and anxiety has proven a difficult task for researchers engaged with the problem. Yet, many findings have lead to the idea that the "effects of victimization include anger, sadness, and diminished self-esteem," (Holt & Espelage 2005:313). In a 2005 study (Holt & Espelage), teens that had experienced emotional abuse within their dating relationships was strongly correlated to the presence an anxiety and depression. Such depressive feelings can lead to serious ramifications including suicidal thoughts and actions. Recent research shows that exposure to teen dating violence is "associated with a having experienced a recent, prolonged episode where the teen felt sad or hopeless, suicidal ideation and attempted suicide," (Howard et al. 2007 "Prevalence and psychosocial correlates of forced sexual intercourse among U.S. high school adolosecents":635). These depressive or anxious feelings can last well after the end of the relationship and have serious negative ramifications well into adulthood and beyond.
Yet, with such findings said, there is still a lack of quality research on the topic between the correlation of depression and anxiety with incidents of teen dating violence. Little prior research has actually taken steps to link dating violence and psychological functioning (Holt & Espelage 2005). In fact, most research which has focused on youth dating violence has been within the context of college age individuals, leaving out much of the problems going on within high school campuses (James et al. 2000). There is an unnervingly small amount of attention geared towards specifically determining the correlation rates of depression and anxiety within the teen population. Thus, when teens grow up and show signs of depression and anxiety later in life, there is a disconnect between the true real source, which may in fact be an abusive teen relationship hiding deep in their past.
The first step in developing the methodology for this study would be to secure the parental consent of all teen subjects who are to be included within the context of this research. This can be done once a specific school or group of schools is chosen by sending home parental consent forms to be signed and brought back. Those students' whose parents do consent will then be entered into the program to be pre-screened and potentially used in the larger sample. Those students' whose parents do not consent can return to daily school life and be completely excluded from the general sample body with no harm done to the outcome of the survey.
The sample body of subjects for this research will include high school students of all ages and grade levels from a number of different schools representing the general teen population. Specific schools will be chosen based on student population, ethnic diversity, income status, as well as representation of inner city and rural areas. Several measures will be conducted in order to ensure the utmost possible internal and external validity within the students chosen for the research. To keep internal validity, a pre-screening will be conducted that eliminates teens that have experienced other types of abuse which may lead to the same type of anxiety without the presence of teen dating violence. Students who are documented to have depression and do not admit to having been exposed to teen dating violence during the prescreening measures will then be excluded from the sample body of subjects. In accordance with the findings of other similar studies, a large sample body must be chosen in order to best represent the larger teen population. Within the context of other studies "the low number of adolescents in the sample limits the generalizability of the findings," (James et al. 2000:461). Therefore, this research must best protect internal validity by increasing the sample body size to the largest number of students possible after the initial exclusion conducted by the pre-screening. Also, previous research has found that "Very little is known about the prevalence of dating violence among gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth as previous studies on dating violence have not focused on sexual minorities or same sex relationships among youth," (McKay 2002:112). Thus, this research must include students within a gay, lesbian, or bisexual relationship in order to represent that population of students. To protect external validity, once the population that has previous depression diagnoses with no exposure to teen violence has been removed, study participants are then chosen by chance. They will…