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While most of us may not rank name-calling, or bad-mouthing another to their friends as “violence,” the researchers say they included the psychological and relationship tactics because they can have a profound impact.

“We see in other research that the psychological stuff has just as much of a negative impact on health outcomes as the physical and sexual” violence, said Carlos Cuevas, associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Northeastern University, who is also presenting a study on youth dating violence at meeting.

Quickly, though, sweet talk gave way to insults and demands and, finally, physical abuse. 12, 2005, kicking incident, Sarah, a willowy strawberry blonde with a spray of freckles across her cheeks, stood in line at the family division of the Santa Clara County, Calif., court clerk’s office, waiting to pick up a copy of a restraining order.

They were at a party, and Joe (not his real name), the cute football player she’d been dating, had kicked her, hard, propelling her into a wall, where she had hit her head and blacked out.

“I woke up and he was hovering over me,” Sarah, now 18, recalls.

February is teen dating violence awareness month, and it reminds me of what are still the most harrowing four years of my life.

One in four teens self-reports physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse every year.

For her study, Dorothy Espelage, professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her colleagues conducted a longitudinal study among 625 students starting in grades 5, 6, and 7, and followed them over a period of four years.

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