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A new study from the University of British Columbia has introduced more findings into the national conversation about power dynamics in relationships and romance. When it came to violence—being hit, slapped or pushed—researchers found 5.8 percent of boys claimed they had experienced violence while 4.2 percent of girls claimed the same.

Overall, violence in dating relationships is reported at 5 percent among respondents, down from 6 percent in 2003.

Catherine Shaffer, first author of the study, told UBC the increased reporting from men could indicate “it’s still socially acceptable for girls to hit or slap boys in dating relationships.” While researchers speculated that social pressures could factor in how girls responded to the survey—fear of rejection, stigma against being a victim, etc.—they did insist that the findings show male stories of violence should not be ignored.

Regardless, the decline in reported violence among teenagers dating is encouraging. “Young people who experience dating violence are more likely to act out and and they’re also more likely to experience depression or think about suicide,” Shaffer said. “The decline suggests that healthy relationship programs are making an impact among youth.”

However you interpret the data, the idea holds that it’s important to believe victims regardless of gender. We’ve written extensively of late about the urgency needed when it comes to believing women in particular. Trust their stories. Don’t shrink back.

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