DOMESTIC ABUSE is abuse which happens, usually at home, behind closed doors. There are different types of abuse and a lot of the time there will be more than one type of abuse happening.
- Physical abuse – hitting, punching, kicking, hair pulling or biting
- Emotional abuse – threats, telling someone they’re stupid or fat
- Social abuse – keeping you away from friends and family
- Financial abuse – not being allowed to have your own money or asking you to buy them things
- Sexual abuse – unwanted or forced sexual acts or making you watch porn when you don’t want to
Domestic abuse is ongoing behaviour that aims to dominate and control you, your siblings or your Mom or Dad. This is known as Coercive control.
Abuse that happens at home can be frightening and confusing – after all, aren’t these people my family? Why would they want to hurt each other or me? Why do mum and dad tell me it’s ok between them when all I can hear is shouting and arguments? Maybe you think that your family is normal because this type of behaviour is all you have experienced at home.
Abuse can also happen between you and a boyfriend or girlfriend. It can be hard to understand why someone who tells you they love you is also hurting you. A girlfriend or boyfriend should not tell you what to do, who you can see and how you should spend you time. They should not ask you to do things for them for money or call you names and make you feel like you don’t matter. They should also never hit or slap you or make you feel like you have to engage in any sexual activity you don’t feel comfortable with.
If you feel like any of this is happening to you, it is important to remember that you are not alone and to find someone you feel comfortable speaking to. Can you speak to your parents? At school, is there a teacher or someone that you can talk to? Is there a group you go to that has a leader that you trust, e.g. cubs, gym, football etc. Teachers and group leaders will listen to what you have to say and are able to get the right help for you. If you want to talk to someone anonymously or over the phone, you can call ChildLine on 0800 11 11 and they will listen to and advise you on what is the best thing for you to do.
Or you can call our helpline on 01543 676800 – it’s available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so someone is always there to talk to.
There is also a great website if you think you are experiencing domestic abuse which offering information and advice. Follow this link: http://thehideout.org.uk/
WHAT HAPPENS IF I MOVE INTO A REFUGE? – Moving into a refuge can be scary and we know that you might be feeling quite anxious about what will happen and sad about leaving behind your friends and School. At Pathway we will make sure that you get to spend lots of time with our Children’s Team, where you can talk about anything that’s upset you or made you feel sad. We will help you get settled into a new school and you can join in play sessions or after school clubs. We also put on lots of trips and outings in the holidays that you can join in with such as Cadbury World, Alton Towers and the Sea Life Centre. You can also come to our Youth Club every week and join in a range of activities there.
YOUNG PEOPLE TODAY – Here is some advice and guidance on issues we think you might be interested in.
RELATIONSHIPS – A healthy relationship is one where both people respect each other, value each other’s opinions and where there is trust between you. Is it healthy if your boy/girlfriend texts you 100 times a day to see what you’re doing or where you are? Maybe you think that this shows that they love you, when actually it is controlling behaviour. Does your partner want you all to themselves all the time – doesn’t want you to be with your friends – again this is controlling behaviour. Do they tell you that you wouldn’t be able to get another partner because you’re fat, ugly – again this is emotional abuse and controlling behaviour. If you see any of these signs in your relationship, do you really want this to continue?
SEXUAL CONSENT – This is when someone agrees or gives permission to take part in sexual activity with other people. Consent must be freely given and you must be able to stop the sexual activity at any point that you don’t feel comfortable.
WHAT THE LAW SAYS – In United Kingdom, we have to be 16 years or older to have homosexual (gay) or heterosexual (straight) sex. ‘Sex’ means penetrative sex, oral sex or masturbating together.
It is a criminal offence to have sex under the age of 16 because in the eyes of the law you are still a child and cannot give informed consent. If you have sex with anyone under the age of 16, it is a criminal offence, even if they agree. If you are under 16 and have sex with someone who is older than you, even if you consent, they could still be charged by the Police.
At the age of 16 years, it’s legal to have sex, except with someone who’s in a ‘position of trust’ over us, including teachers, carers and doctors. It’s illegal for them to have sex with under-18s in their care.
No one should ever convince you to engage in any sexual activity that you aren’t comfortable with or don’t consent to. This includes asking you to do things with their friends or with people you don’t know, because it will help them get out of a difficult situation e.g. someone they owe money to. You may also be encouraged to engage in sexual activity that helps them for a ‘reward’ such as a new phone, this would be considered to be exploitation even though they may tell you that they love you.
The law is there to protect young people and especially those that are vulnerable from the risk of exploitation. If you think that you or someone that you know is being encouraged to engage in sexual activity they are not sure about then please speak to an adult.
Emotionally, you may not be ready to have a sexual relationship at the age of 16, it is important that the time feels right for you. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured by other people telling you that everyone has done it and you need to join in. If you do feel ready, remember to keep safe, practise safe sex and use contraception. You can find a list of all your local sexual health clinics on http://www.staffordshireandstokeontent.nhs.uk/Services/sexual-health.htm
It is your body and just because you are in a relationship doesn’t mean that it is a right for your partner to have sex with you. Don’t do anything you’re not completely comfortable with.
SOCIAL MEDIA – Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat etc. are great ways to keep in touch with your friends and family but there are dangers that you should be aware of. Do you hear your friends saying that they have 875 friends…. Sounds impressive doesn’t it? BUT do they really know all their friends. They couldn’t possibly KNOW all these people so you should tell them to be careful. Some of the people they are friends with may not be who they say they are or they may have a motive that isn’t nice.
Without realising you can tell people a lot about yourself on social media through your posts. For instance a picture in your school uniform will give them the name of your school and allow them to google where you are. Tagging yourself at an event you do each week will mean that they know you will be walking home at a certain time and may be by yourself. Make sure you think about how you know someone before you accept a friend request.
It is important that you keep safe when online. The following are the Childnet SMART rules which you should always try and remember.
S – SAFE Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information – such as your name, email, phone number, home address, or school name – to people who you don’t know online.
M – MEETING Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents’/carers’ permissions & when they can be present. The person you are meeting may not be who you think you’ve been talking to.
A – ACCEPTING Accepting e-mails, IM messages or opening files from people you don’t know or trust can be dangerous – they may contain viruses or nasty messages.
R – RELIABLE Someone online may be lying about who they are, and information you find on the internet may not be reliable.
T – TELL Your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried
WHAT IS GROOMING?
Grooming is when someone becomes friendly with someone younger than them, normally a child or teenager, to get their trust. They may then be exposed to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or trafficking. You can be groomed online or face-to-face, by a stranger or by someone you know – for example a family member, friend or professional. The aim of grooming is for the abuser to have power over you that will mean they get something they want.
A high profile local case was Kayleigh Haywood. Kayleigh met someone she thought was a boy of the same age on Facebook and spent two weeks chatting to him before she arranged to meet him in person. The person she actually met was a middle aged man who had groomed her for his own sexual interest. On their website Leicestershire Police describe how it took just 2 weeks for Kayleigh to be groomed and meet her death.
A short film has been made to raise awareness of Kayleigh’s story and can be viewed at: https://leics.police.uk/kayleighslovestory
Are you being groomed? – The warning signs
These are things that typically happen when a child or young person is being groomed:
- Age – is the person you are talking to much older?
- Do they ask you to lie and keep secrets?
- Do you get gifts or do they pay for things for you?
- Do they talk about or show you images of a sexual nature?
- Do they ask you to do things you don’t want to do – for example – go to pubs, bunk off school, send sexual images of yourself
- Do they keep you away from friends and family?
- Do they want you to take drugs, alcohol or encourage you to do things that you are not old enough for?
- Do they pressure you into doing things?
- Do they make you feel like you owe them?
Recognise any of these signs – where do you go for help? You can speak to a teacher or parent about what is happening to you. They will want to help you. If you don’t feel that you can approach anyone face to face you can call ChildLine on 0800 11 11 and they will help you. If you are an adult concerned about a child who you think may be being groomed, the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children have a helpline that you can call for advice – it’s 0808 800 5000
SEXTING – If you are under 18 years of age, it is illegal for you to take a naked picture of yourself (even a selfie) and send it to someone else, even if you know the person, even if they are a friend or even if they too are under 18 years of age. Taking or sending a naked picture of anyone under the age of 18 years is illegal and you could be charged with distributing child pornography and may even end up on the sex offenders register.
So, if someone asked you for a sexy picture, what should you do? Well, you could just say ‘no’, but there’s a great little app out there that you can keep on your phones called ‘zipit’… if you get asked for a picture, send one from this app – it’s a humorous way to get out of an awkward situation.
What if you’ve sent a picture and don’t know what to do. You should act quickly and:
- Have an honest conversation with the person you sent it to, say it was a mistake and ask them to delete it.
- If the picture gets posted online, you can contact the site direct and ask for it to be removed – you might need to talk to an adult or teacher who can help you.
- ChildLine have counsellors who can help you to get items posted removed.
- Talk to your teacher – schools have the right to confiscate mobile phones if they believe that they have sexual images on them and will report any concerns to the police.
Remember that even if you feel you really trust the person you are sending an image to, once it has left your phone it is out of your control and they are able to do what they want with it. It is easy to make a decision quickly when someone is making you feel good about yourself but try and think about what you will get out of it.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE – As a young person, you may already have tried some alcohol or drugs. It is illegal for anyone under 18 years old to buy alcohol AND it is illegal to buy it on your behalf. You may have enjoyed the feeling that you had when you tried them but it is vital that you take care of yourself. When using drugs or alcohol you could experience the following effects:
- You feel invincible and can put yourself at risk.
- Your judgement may be impaired and you could do something you later regret
- You can be less ‘choosy’ and might go with someone you wouldn’t ordinarily want to.
- Some drugs and alcohol can affect your sexual performance – you may be disappointed!
Remember – there’s always an ‘unknown’ element with takings drugs – Do you know for sure what’s in there? Do you know how your body will react to it?
It’s important not to give in to your mates if they want you to try something which you don’t. Know your limits – everyone is different. If you are caught with drugs, the police will take action – even if it’s only a small amount – this could end up in a criminal record and affect your chances of getting a job. Substance misuse can quickly become a problem and addiction – the following are signs to look out for – losing interest in things, loss of concentration, home problems, less care in your appearance, losing friends, missing school/college, depression and anxiety. When substances are misused and become a problem or you are worried about someone, you can contact FRANK on 0800776600 or go to http://www.talktofrank.com
It’s your life and you are the one in control and able to make wise choices.
MENTAL HEALTH – We understand that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by what you experience, pressure at school, exams, friends or family troubles. You may get to a point where you feel you cannot cope – If this is the case you need to ask for support. Speak to family or friends about how you feel and spend time with them; don’t spend too much time on your own. People who care about you will genuinely want to help so ask them. You can speak to your family, trusted friends, teacher or doctor. Choose a good time and somewhere you feel comfortable, so you can talk uninterrupted in a relaxed environment. Be clear what you want.
It is much better to find someone that you trust to speak to face to face, or to use a registered charity or website than talk to someone over social media. Again that person may not have your best interests at heart or want the best for you.
If you have low self esteem, talk to someone before it becomes a bigger problem. The young minds website offers information and advice relating to children and young people’s mental health – http://www.youngminds.org.uk
ChildLine – For information and advice on any issues, any time. https://www.childline.org.uk/
NSPCC – For information and advice relating to child abuse in the UK including Child Sexual Exploitation https://www.nspcc.org.uk/
Think U Know – Advice and information for any age to keep children safe online https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
CEOP – Advise and reporting for keeping children safe online. https://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/
Internet Watch Foundation – Minimising the availability of online sexual abuse content https://www.iwf.org.uk/
Bullying UK – Information and advice on the issue of bullying http://www.bullying.co.uk/
The Hideout – Women’s Aid site aimed at children and young people experiencing domestic violence http://thehideout.org.uk/
Women’s Aid – Working with women and children against domestic violence https://www.womensaid.org.uk/
Young Minds – Offering information and advice on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people up to 25years of age https://youngminds.org.uk
Talk to Frank – Offering information and advice on drugs and substances at http://www.talktofrank.com