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Young women "tend to minimize" the behaviour of boyfriends who cyberstalk them, text them obsessively, or demand they refrain from going out alone or with girlfriends. By the time they realize it, they're in their late 20s, and they think, 'Well, this is not right.' As you get older, you're less likely to put up with crap.

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"We have people dating far into their 20s and 30s that otherwise would have been married," she said, and while older daters may know more about their rights, they often don't get the same familial support as couples in "the strong, socially sanctioned institution of marriage." She added that victims who date offenders may not be as willing to reach out to shelters and other resources: "They may not consider themselves eligible.

They may not think of it in the same way as 'I'm an abused wife.' " Even with this rise of documented incidents, research suggests just a third of all domestic violence victims report – less if they're a man.

"There's a culture of coerced sexuality that has been hard to break through for a very long time," Ms. "We may have lost ground with this age group, in terms of respect and proper boundaries between equals in a dating relationship." Staff Sergeant Isobel Granger, head of the partner assault unit at Ottawa Police Services, said the young women she sees often have little concept of what boundaries are acceptable to them.

"We do see a significant number of people in their 20s and early 30s that are in relationships that boggle the mind," she said.

Consequently, those in the field have to rely on an framework to examine the problem of teen dating violence.