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Children's Services

BCWA offer a range of support for children and young people who have been affected by: teenage relationship abuse, domestic abuse in the home; rape and sexual violence; and child sexual exploitation.


We also carry out a range of prevention and awareness raising work in schools and communities through our TRAPPED, VIVA and Inside Out programmes.

What is teenage relationship abuse?

Teenage relationship abuse is an incident, or pattern of incidents, of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between intimate partners. Anyone can be abused, whatever their age, gender, ethnicity or sexuality.

Relationship abuse is not just about physical violence: it is about one person seeking power and control over another person. Abusers use psychological, physical sexual, and financial abuse, isolation and coercive control to do this. Whatever form it takes, relationship abuse is rarely a one-off incident and it can get worse over time.

It is normal for people in relationships to fall out sometimes. However, if your partner regularly hurts you either physically or emotionally, this is not ok, and you do not deserve it.

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Is it happening to you?

Does your partner:

  • put you down a lot?
  • make you feel bad about yourself, calling you names or making you feel guilty?
  • make you feel scared by a look, a gesture or displaying weapons?
  • deny the abuse, say you caused it, or pretend that it didn’t happen?
  • threaten to hurt you, leave you, hurt your family or commit suicide?
  • force you to have pictures or videos taken?
  • isolate you from friends and family?
  • control where you go and what you do?
  • use jealousy as a sign of “true love”?
  • threaten to tell things about you?
  • spread lies or rumours about you?
  • pressure you to do things you don’t want to do, including sexual things?


If you feel scared of your partner because of things that they say and do, or are forced to change your behaviour because you are frightened of how they will react, you might be experiencing relationship abuse.

This is not your fault.

Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to someone: it can help.

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Frequently asked questions

Doesn’t relationship abuse or domestic abuse just happen to adults?

Domestic abuse, or relationship abuse, can happen to anyone, not just adults or people who live together. Relationship abuse, is actually common amongst young people. National research by Bristol University and the NSPCC surveyed 13-17 year old girls and boys about relationships. They found that 75% of girls and 14% of boys had experienced emotional abuse from a partner, 33% of girls and 16% of boys had experienced sexual violence from a partner, and 25% of girls and 18% of boys had experienced physical abuse from a partner.


Young people aged 16-19 are actually more likely to suffer domestic abuse than any other age range. In 2012, the Home Office definition of domestic abuse expanded to include young people aged 16 and over.

What about same-sex relationships?

Domestic abuse or relationship abuse can happen to people in any kind of relationship, this includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans* young people.


If you are not out to anyone else, this can be even more isolating and confusing, and abusive partners may threaten to out you to others as a way of controlling you.

They say they do this because they love me, is that true?

Some people might think that if their partner gets jealous or checks up on them it is a sign of “love”. However this is not true: jealous and controlling behaviour is not about romance, it is about power.


If you love someone, you care about their wellbeing, and you wouldn’t want them to be scared or upset.

I am worried about someone else. What do I do?

People who are in an abusive relationship often find it hard to speak out. However you may notice signs that make you concerned. This may include:


  • Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
  • They constantly check their phone, their partner is always calling or texting to check up on them, getting angry if there isn’t an instant response.
  • Unexplainable bruises or other injuries.
  • Changes in personality: mood swings, feeling depressed, anxious, irritable or withdrawn.
  • Giving up doing things they used to enjoy, such as hobbies, to spend more time with their partner.
  • They stop spending time with other friends and family
  • Their school performance drops, or they start skipping school.
  • Their partner verbally abuses them, calling them names or trying make them feel small.


If you are a parent worried that your child is in an abusive relationship, or if you are worried about one of your friends, this can be scary. However you can play an important role by being there for them, listening to them and helping them to get the support they need.


Talking to someone about relationship abuse can be difficult, but it is important not to ignore it as they could be in danger. Here are some tips:


  • Plan: think about what you will say in advance, and choose the right time to talk, when things are calm
  • Be concerned: tell them you are concerned about them and ask them if they are ok. Don’t come across as judgemental: show them that it is ok to talk and that you are there for them. Even if they are not ready to talk now, they might go away and think, and come back to you.
  • Talk about behaviour, not the person: remember that they may love this person, and respect these feelings. Talk about the behaviour that you don’t like, not the person. You can use examples from the media to talk about healthy relationships. Tell them that they deserve a relationship where they are safe, healthy and respected.
  • Listen and be supportive: people who are being abused often fear that others will be disappointed in them, or blame them for what is happening. Listen to what they have to say, be understanding, tell them that it is not their fault, and don’t judge them.
  • Believe them: If you react with fear or disbelief this may make them reluctant to talk to you about this again. Make sure they know that you believe them and that you support them whatever happens.
  • Trust them: They need to be ready to make a change themselves. If you try to tell them what to do they may fall out with you and become more isolated. If you try to make them end the relationship straight away this could put them in danger. Leaving is the most dangerous time for victims as abuse can escalate. Get support to help them leave when they are ready.
  • Make a plan together: Ask them what they want the next step to be.·         
  • Get support: Contact us on 0121 553 0090. If you think someone is in immediate danger, contact 999.

Rape and sexual violence: has it happened to you?

Sexual violence is any unwanted sexual act or activity. If someone intentionally grabs or touches you in a sexual way that you don’t like, if you’re forced to kiss someone or do something else sexual against your will, this is sexual assault.

If you are forced to have sex with someone, or someone has sex with you without your consent or agreement, this is rape.

If this has happened to you, it is important to remember that it is not your fault. No-one ever asks to be raped or assaulted, or deserves it. Rape and sexual assault are criminal offences, and the blame lies with the abuser.

You can read more information, including the answers to some frequently asked questions, on our rape and sexual violence service page.

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Do you need some support?

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What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a kind of abuse where a child or young person is manipulated into sexual activity by adults.

This could be someone that says they are your boyfriend or girlfriend. It could be someone you have met recently or known for a while. It could be someone you know in person or met online.

Abusers will often try to draw you into a relationship by giving you gifts, attention or affection. They might say they love you or will take care of you, and make you feel special. They might also try to pull you away from your family and friends, or other people that might support you. This is called grooming, and it is the way they get you to trust them and break down your boundaries.

Once they have groomed you, they will make you feel that you have to give them something in exchange, and this might involve sexual acts with them or even with other people.

They may blackmail you or threaten you make you do what they want, and to stop you from telling anyone what is happening.

They may try to make you believe that this is normal, or that you have consented to what is happening. However if they are threatening you, blackmailing you, or coercing you, this is not consent. If you are under 16, you cannot legally consent to sex with an adult.

If this is happening to you it is abuse, it is not ok, and it is not your fault.

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Talk to someone… it can help

We know it is difficult to talk about what has happened, but telling someone can really help. Our Young People’s Advocates are specialist support workers who can support you both emotionally and practically.

We will believe you. We will listen to you, support you, advocate for you and give you time and space to decide what you want to do. We won’t judge you because of what you say or force you to make a decision you do not want to make.

We can never take away what happened to you, but there is life after abuse. We can help you with choices on how to move forward.

Although our Young People’s Advocates work closely with other organisations to ensure you get the best support, they are independent of all statutory agencies including the Police, Local Authority and Social Services.

“My confidence has improved and I have someone that I can talk to about anything. I am always smiling now. Every time I see my support worker at school she makes me smile.”

How can we support you?

  • Being there for you to talk to in confidence and share your feelings in a safe space;
  • Talking to you about your needs and concerns, and making a support plan with you;
  • Discussing your safety and any risks you face, and making a safety plan with you to help to keep you safe;
  • Supporting you with your emotional wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem;
  • Advocating for you with any other agencies that are working with you, ensuring that your voice is heard and feelings are respected. This may include social services if they are involved with you or your family, and your school or college if you need help or support to attend;
  • Supporting you with your relationship with your parents or carers if this is difficult;
  • Sharing information with you so that you feel empowered to make decisions that are right for you;
  • Helping you to understand how the criminal justice process works, explaining what will happen if you report to the police, and what happens in court. We can also support you at court and afterwards;
  • Access to counselling and support groups.

Getting in touch

Please contact us to speak to an advisor and find out more about how we can support you.

If you are from an agency and would like to refer someone you are working with please scroll down for a referral form and details of our secure email.

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Where we work

Our Children and Young People’s Services cover Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Please click below for contact details and information in your area.

Work with schools

BCWA works extensively with schools and colleges across the Black Country, offering awareness and prevention work around abuse and exploitation.

TRAPPED: Prevention and Awareness

TRAPPED is a group education and awareness programme for children and young people which educates and empowers them around the crucial issue of relationship abuse.

It features detailed lesson plans for ages 11-15, providing healthy, age-appropriate messages around gender, consent, healthy relationships, sexuality, abuse, cyber-safety, gangs, and other risk factors. TRAPPED offers them the language and understanding to communicate about these issues, know their rights, increase their resilience and know where to go for help.

TRAPPED was originally developed in partnership with the Home Office, Sandwell MBC and West Midlands Police. It was designed in accordance with PSHE Association guidelines on Sex and Relationships Education. It was peer-reviewed and recommended as good practice by the Department for Education and Home Office in the report: Tackling Knives and Serious Youth Violence Programme Good Practice Guide 2010-2011.

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What do young people say?

93% of secondary pupils said they enjoyed all or part of the session; 72% said they learned something they didn’t know before ; 36% of boys and 41% of girls recognised from their own lives issues covered in the session. 86% said that following the session they would know where to go to get help if they faced any of the issues covered themselves.

VIVA: Support and resilience building

VIVA is a group programme for young people who may be at risk of abuse or exploitation. The six-week programme further explores self-esteem, risk taking, trusted adults and healthy relationships. One to one work is also available with young people who are suffering any kind of abuse.

VIVA can be offered in school and community settings.

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Viva logo for Black Country Women's Aid Children's Services


Inside-Out is a group programme for children who have been living with domestic abuse, aiming to help them to manage their emotions and feelings, create a sense of safety and improve their behaviour and sense of well-being.

The programme addresses issues of self-esteem, personal space, safety and awareness of acceptable and unacceptable behaviours, not only in others but also in themselves. The programme works around identifying and managing internal feelings first, then looking at how these are expressed outwardly, helping children to understand how they can control their actions.

For more information about our work with schools

Contact us

Service Resources

Referral Form

Professionals: please use this form to make referrals for support

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