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Women’s Aid launches support for teenage girls

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Women's Aid, launch, LoveRespect website, support teenage girls, challenge myths, coercive control, “Having a bad boyfriend shouldn’t be an acceptable rite of teen passage.”

Women’s Aid launched its #LoveRespect website earlier this month, set up to support teenage girls at risk of relationship abuse and to challenge myths surrounding the nature of coercive control.

The new website, which features a relationship health check, survivor stories, practical advice and an email support service, is designed to reach teenage girls who may not realise they are experiencing relationship abuse, and are less likely than older women to call a helpline.

Bestselling young adult author and feminist activist Holly Bourne is the charity’s #LoveRespect Ambassador.

Research by Women’s Aid and Cosmopolitan found that a third of teenage girls knew they had been in an abusive relationship. However, when the remaining two-thirds were asked more detailed questions about their relationships, it became clear that 64 per cent of them had in fact experienced abusive behaviour, but they did not recognise it as such.

In a series of survivor stories, Women’s Aid Ambassador, personal trainer, author and social media influencer Alice Liveing describes the police arriving at her door when she was just 16, and four other survivors describe being controlled, dominated and bullied by their boyfriends.

Holly Bourne, #LoveRespect Ambassador and bestselling young people’s author, said: “We are never more vulnerable than when we are in love, and this is particularly true when we fall in love for the first time with no other relationships to compare it to.

“That’s why it’s so important Women’s Aid exists to educate young people on what healthy relationships look like and feel like, especially when abusive behaviour is so romanticised by the media.

“Having a bad boyfriend shouldn’t be an acceptable rite of teen passage. The damage they cause is often long-lasting. I’m so proud to be working with Women’s Aid to raise awareness of the warning signs and support the incredible work they do supporting and empowering girls.”

And Women’s Aid Ambassador, personal trainer, author and social media influencer Alice Liveing said: “When I was 16 I found myself in an abusive relationship and felt so isolated and alone.

“I didn’t think that abuse happened to young people, and to be honest I had no idea that what I was experiencing was even abuse for a long time either.

“I think this website is incredible in providing the information and support needed for teenage girls who are experiencing their first relationships, and helping them to understand what is acceptable and what is not. I think it will help so many people.”

Adina Claire, Acting Co-Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “We’ve launched this website to help teenage girls understand the nature of controlling and coercive behaviour.

“We want to let them know that support is out there, and tell the stories of young women who have been through the same things and survived.

“Our extensive research with young survivors and teenagers in schools has shown that girls are more likely to engage with digital resources than call a helpline, so we’ve created a website to meet their needs.

“We’re also working on an online chat service to provide further support. #LoveRespect provides teenage girls with the tools they need to recognise abuse, understand their rights and seek the right support.”

And as Survivor Sophie J said: “No physical violence? No shared house? No children? Only 15? It doesn’t matter. The law recognises the abuse as a crime – and the more we talk about it, the more likely other people will too.”

If you are worried that your partner, or the partner of a friend or family member, is controlling and abusive, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence, on 0808 2000 247 – or visit the Women’s Aid website.

If you feel threatened, or in an emergency, call the police on 999.

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