4564 young people aged between 13 and 17 years-old from Bulgaria, Cyprus, England, Italy and Norway took part in the survey. The majority (72%, Number = 3277) of them reported having a boyfriend or girlfriend. Most of them (96%) had an opposite sex partner and 4% a same-sex partner.
40% of the young people who had had a partner reported experiencing some form of online violence. Controlling behaviour (measured by ‘control who you can be with’) and surveillance (measured by ’constantly checked up on’) were the most commonly experienced. Online violence included partners using a mobile phone, computer or tablets to:
- Put them down or send nasty messages
- Post nasty messages that others could see
- Send threatening messages
- Try and control meeting up with friends with or where partners could go
- Constantly check on what partners have been doing or who they have been seeing
Across the five countries between 31% and 59% of young women and 19% to 41% of young men reported experiencing this form of behaviour from a partner. This included people being:
- Put down in a nasty way
- Shouted/screamed at or being called names
- told negative things about your appearance, body, friends or family
- Threatened physically
In each country between 9% and 22% of young women and 8% to 15% of young men reported some form of physical violence from a partner. This included partners:
- Using physical force such as slapping, pushing, hitting or holding down
- Using more severe physical force such as punching, strangling, beating up, hitting with an object
Few young people reported severe forms of violence.
17% to 41% young women and 9% to 25% young men reported sexual violence. Mostly this was pressure rather than being physically forced. This included pressure into ‘intimate touching, sexual intercourse or something else sexual’.
By combining all of the responses we can see that in each country between 53% and 66% of young women and 32%-69% of young men reported experiencing at least one form of violence. The proportion of young women who had experienced violence was similar across all the countries, but England and Italy reported the highest levels. For young men rates varied, Italy reported the highest rates whilst England and Norway had the lowest.
Young women were much more likely than young men to report a negative only impact. This included being upset; scared; embarrassed; unhappy; humiliated; bad about yourself; angry; annoyed; and shocked. Young men were more likely to report a positive impact or no effect; this included loved; good about yourself; wanted; protected; thought it was funny and ‘no effect’.
The difference in impact was most noticeable for sexual violence where between 81% and 96% of young women reported a negative only impact whilst between 25-40% of young men reported a negative impact. It therefore appears that young women may be more negatively affected by their experiences than young men.
Across the five countries, between 6 % and 44 % of young women and between 15% and 32% of young men said they had sent a sexual image or text message. Between 9% and 42% of young women and 9% and 13% of young men reported that a message they sent was shared by their partner. In Cyprus, only one young person reported that a message was shared. Between 13 % and 59% of young women said that sending a sexual image or text message had a negative effect on them. Between 9% and 25 % of young men said this.
For all forms of violence young people were most likely to either tell a friend or tell nobody. Very few told an adult, including a parent or a professional such as a teacher, but some young people we interviewed said this helped:
We usually talk with our friends. But if you’re really close to your parents you can also go to them or reach out to a relative that you trust or who can understand you […] to someone who is older, more experienced, who can advise you. Then it’s up to you if you’ll follow the advice or not.
I thought I was better off telling a teacher than sitting here by myself, receiving message after message. …. I have an agreement with the teachers that if it becomes difficult, if I need to be alone, I can leave the classroom for half an hour, take a walk, get some air, think some, and that has been very helpful.