Did you know that young people aged 16 to 24 are the most likely to be in an abusive relationship?

Chances are that it has happened to or will happen to someone you know.

As a friend, your words can make a big difference to someone caught up in abuse. But would you know how to #SpeakSense? Find out below!

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Relationship abuse can happen to anyone, but recent research shows it is most common in younger age groups, with young women at particularly high risk.

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It is common to only associate relationship abuse with violence or sexual coercion.

But there are other forms of abuse that can have significant emotional and psychological impact.

So what does abuse look like?

In a healthy relationship, both people should feel loved, safe and respected.

Fear, intimidation, manipulation or controlling behaviour should not be part of the equation.

Checking a girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s phone without consent, scaring them into getting your way, getting angry when they spend time with other people, monitoring their daily activities or what they wear, calling them names, threatening to spread rumours or tell their secrets, hitting, slapping or pushing them, forcing them into sexual acts, including showing naked pictures of them against their will, are all examples of abuse and are unacceptable.

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Want to learn more about relationship abuse? Try Disrespect NoBody or GOV.UK

 

Has your friend asked you for advice related to any of the issues above? Or have you picked up on something without them telling you?

If you suspect something is not right, acting to solve it is not always easy but it can save lives.

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Learn how you can support an abused friend or challenge an abusive friend below.

Remember, if you think someone’s life is in danger you should always call 999.

If you are worried your friend is being abused

It can be worrying when someone you care about is in an unhealthy relationship.

It is important to keep showing support, even if you don’t understand your friend’s choices.

Relationship abuse can destroy someone’s self-confidence and leave them feeling lonely or depressed – a good friend is more important than ever.

checklist box Listen to and believe your friend
It can be hard to understand when you’re not in that situation, but remember to listen to and trust what your friend is telling you. Remember, a boy or someone in a same-sex relationship can also be a target of abuse.

checklist box Be supportive
Many people who are abused associate it with shame and guilt. The more supported your friend feels, the easier it could be for them to deal with what’s happening. Try not to criticise their behaviour or dismiss what is happening to them.

checklist box Break the isolation
Abuse often results in the person being isolated from friends and family, making it more difficult to leave the relationship. Help break the isolation by suggesting you do things together, such as going to the cinema or just taking a walk.

checklist box Avoid pressuring your friend 
For instance, if your friend decides to stay in the relationship, don’t give up on them. Leaving someone could be a big step, and sometimes dangerous if that person doesn’t have the right support. Remember that isolation can make it even more difficult, so continue being there for your friend – they need it!

checklist box Contact a specialised service
It is not unusual for friends of victims of abuse to feel like they are powerless and unable to help, but there are professionals and helplines out there ready to give additional support and advice. You could either try to let your friend know about the options available, or contact them yourself if you feel discouraged or don’t know what to do.

Click here to find a list of organisations that can help someone being abused.

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If you are worried your friend might be abusing someone

Suspecting a friend is abusive towards a girlfriend or boyfriend can be conflicting and it can be tempting to just try to stay out of it.

But it is important to remember taking action doesn’t mean you are betraying your friend.

Abuse is not a private matter, and the more people speak out the less acceptable it becomes.

Abusive behaviours can carry a prison sentence and seriously damage your friend’s future.

checklist box Challenge their behaviour
Abuse is never OK, no matter the circumstances. Let your friend know that you don’t agree with their behaviour. Excuses are common, but try to avoid playing down the seriousness of the situation.

checklist box Help them get support
There are many professionals and helplines that can talk to people who are being abusive. You could either let your friend know about these services, or contact them yourself.

checklist box Stay safe
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your friend, but are worried they may be hurting someone, you can talk in confidence with a professional at one of the organisations listed below.

Click here to find a list of organisations that can help people who are abusive.

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Here you can find the specialized services available for people 13-18 years old who live or study in Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea or Hammersmith and Fulham.

Visit the official websites for more detailed information, including possible opening hours and the best way to contact them depending on your individual needs.

We’ve also included a list of additional organisations.

For victims of abuse:

checklist boxADVANCE
Specialist staff support girls aged 13 and older who are experiencing domestic violence. If you need support yourself or are worried about a friend, you can contact them via phone, email or online. They won’t judge or tell you what to do, but will listen, help you understand your options, and explain your legal rights. Advance work mostly one to one (on the phone or in person) and wherever possible you will be talking to the same person. Advance has a Young Person Independent Domestic Violence Adviser (IDVA) who works specifically with young women.

website: advancecharity.org.uk
phone: 020 8741 7008 (translation services available)
email: angelou@advancecharity.org.uk

checklist boxWOMEN AND GIRLS NETWORK

The Women and Girls Network (WGN) offers free counselling and advice for women and girls aged 13-18 who are at risk of sexual violence or exploitation, gang related violence, Harmful Practices- FGM, ‘honour’ based violence or forced marriage. Their Young Woman’s Advice service (YWA), offer face to face long-term practical and emotional support by a specialist young women’s worker. Based on your individual needs, WGN will also be able to link you with other appropriate services.

Call or email their Advice helpline for confidential support, and immediate information about your options and staying safe.

WGN also has a specific sexual violence  helpline staffed by specially-trained advisors, where women and girls affected by sexual and gendered violence can talk about their experiences anonymously.

Both numbers can also be used by friends or family of women who have experienced violence.

website: wgn.org.uk
phone: 0808 801 0660 (advice helpline) / 0808 801 0770 (sexual violence helpline)
email: advice@wgn.org.uk / ywa@wgn.org.uk

checklist boxTHE MEN’S ADVICE LINE
If you are a young man who is experiencing relationship abuse you can contact the Men’s Advice Line. Depending on your needs, their trained advisors will be able to provide emotional support and information on the options available to you, as well as guidance to concerned friends and family. All communication with the Men’s Advice Line is confidential unless you consent to information being passed on, or there are serious safety concerns.

website: mensadviceline.org.uk
phone: 0808 801 0327
email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk

checklist boxBROKEN RAINBOW
Run by trained LGBT people, Broken Rainbow provides confidential information and advice to all LGBT youth affected by domestic violence, both those experiencing abuse and those perpetrating it. Call them on their helpline, chat online or contact them via email to talk through what is going on and explore your options. Friends and families of LGBT youth are also welcome to get in touch.

website: brokenrainbow.org.uk
phone: 0300 999 5428 / 0800 999 5428 (freephone)
email: help@brokenrainbow.org.uk
online chat: brokenrainbow.org.uk/help/online-chat

Abuse prevention:

checklist boxDOMESTIC VIOLENCE INTERVENTION PROJECT / YUVA
YUVA helps young people with violent or controlling behaviours to stop the abuse and find healthier, safer ways of being with their girlfriends or boyfriends. Contact them via phone or email to learn techniques for handling anger and stress and deal with arguments in a healthy way, either 1-2-1 or in a group. Friends who are worried are also welcome to contact them. Yuva keeps everything you tell them confidential, unless they are worried you or someone else are in immediate danger.

website: dvip.org/for-young-people.htm
phone: 020 8222 8281
email: yuva@dvip.org

checklist boxBROKEN RAINBOW
Run by trained LGBT people, Broken Rainbow provides confidential information and advice to all LGBT youth affected by domestic violence, both those experiencing abuse and those perpetrating it. Call them on their helpline, chat online or contact them via email to talk through what is going on and explore your options. Friends and families of LGBT youth are also welcome to get in touch.

website: brokenrainbow.org.uk
phone: 0300 999 5428 / 0800 999 5428 (freephone)
email: help@brokenrainbow.org.uk
online chat: brokenrainbow.org.uk/help/online-chat

Looking for something else? Try our A-Z directory of additional resources.

 

When it comes to relationship abuse, the more people that speak up and #SpeakSense, the better.

Have you been able to help a friend in an abusive relationship or been in situations when you didn’t know what to do?

Share your experiences using #SpeakSense.

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Are you a teacher or a young people services’ provider? Contact us to find out how you can bring #SpeakSense to your school or organisation.

 

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