Relationships can be great and should be fun and exciting. It's a time when friendships are explored and new feelings and emotions experienced.
However, for some young people relationships are abusive. And it’s important that the friends and adults in their life look out for signs that they are in difficulty.
Why we need supportive relationships
Having supportive people around is essential if young people are to develop the healthy brain architecture they will need to thrive as adults. A healthy brain supports the learning of life skills like organising information and regulating behaviour, prioritising, delaying gratification, planning ahead, coping with frustration and managing risks.
Fostering strong, positive and supportive relationships enhances healthy brain development and helps to mitigate the impact of any negative early life experiences. Find out more about brain development in young people or watch the video.
There are five different types of abuse
Verbal: Using words, insults (saying mean or upsetting things to you), or threats to make you feel bad about yourself. It can be shouting and swearing, but it can also be simple things like tone of voice – do you ever feel uncomfortable about how your partner speaks to you?
Financial: It could be taking something of yours, or constantly asking and taking money without returning it, or destroying your property.
Physical: This means physical harm to you and includes hitting, grabbing, or even using a weapon. A person being physically abusive can cause minor to severe injuries.
Emotional (sometimes known as psychological): These are things that make you feel bad about yourself. It can include verbal insults or put downs, threats to make you do what they want and these might be towards you or someone you love. Saying things about friends to isolate you and leave you lonely. This can even include constant texting and checking your whereabouts. It could be saying things such as 'if you don’t do this, I will make you..'
Sexual: Rape is sexual abuse, or forcing you to do something sexual that you don’t want to do; either by force or persuasion – 'you would if you loved me!' Sexual abuse can also be verbal, insults about how you are in bed or put downs because you won’t have sex.
Abuse can be experienced in many ways, and you could experience all types at different points in your relationship. Normally abuse escalates so it may start with insults and then become physical. We also see a cycle in these relationships where there will be an incident but then a period when things calm down, but eventually something else will happen. This cycle is what keeps people in the relationship as they may think it’s “a one off” or won’t happen again.
Any sort of sexual contact without consent is illegal, regardless of the age of those involved. Children under the age of 13 cannot consent to any type of sexual activity.