Psychological insecurities within dating and relationships

Although these developments are not surprising in long-running abusive relationships, little is known about the impact of abuse in women's dating relationships.

In a recent survey of senior high school students (ages 16-20), Jackson, Cram, and Seymour (2000) found that 81.5% of their female participants reported an experience of emotional abuse in their dating relationships, 17.5% reported having had at least one experience of physical violence, and 76.9% reported incidents of unwanted sexual activity.

Women with more positive sexual schema tended to view themselves as romantic or passionate and as open to sexual relationship experiences.However, they also can become a source of emotional and/or physical pain, particularly when the relationship is abusive (Kuffel & Katz, 2002).When the bonds of trust, care, and affection are broken through abusive interactions, the partner experiencing the abuse may develop feelings of inferiority and worthlessness (Ferraro & Johnson, 1983).The tendency for women to define their sexuality within the context of the intimate relationship, or as secondary to that of their male partners, means that the quality of interpersonal functioning within the relationship may directly serve to strengthen or undermine women's sexual self-perceptions.Thus, an intimate relationship characterized by abuse and a lack of mutual respect might be expected to impact women's sexual self-perceptions negatively.

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