Teaching young people the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one is the first step towards preventing domestic violence. According to Tender, more and more teenagers are growing up thinking that being threatened or even hit by their partners is normal.
Looking at prevention rather than a cure, domestic violence charity Tender is looking to educate young people about the realities of a violent relationship. This covers everything from physical violence, to emotional abuse, name-calling and even coercive behaviour.
Doireann Larkin, Tender’s campaign manager says: “People can underestimate what a difference it makes for young people just to talk about what a good relationship looks like, but often they’ve normalised all kinds of strange things. A girl might think that her boyfriend grabbing her by the throat is completely normal. Our job is to show her that it’s not.”
Tender started back in 2003 with one workshop in a youth centre. Now in its tenth year, the charity is working in hundreds of schools and youth centres around the country. Recent statistics have confirmed the need for this kind of charity, revealing that a quarter of girls aged between the ages of 13 and 17 have experienced some kind of physical violence in their relationships, with a further three-quarters reporting that they had experienced emotional abuse.
In 2011 the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, confirmed that girls between the ages of 16 and 19 are now at the highest risk of domestic violence. Since these statistics were made public, the Home Office has launched a three-month campaign against this type of abuse, with MP Stella Creasy calling for relationship education to be compulsory in schools.
Now, even the terminology is set to change: the Home Office’s official definition of “domestic violence” will now be inclusive of abuse experienced by girls aged 16 and 17. When this comes into effect, these girls will be able to access services such as women’s refugees that were previously denied to them.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, speaking to a counsellor could help – whatever your age. To find out more and to find a counsellor near you, please see our Abuse page.
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