Information for children and young people

Our children and young people’s advocates support children and young people affected by domestic abuse at home or in their own abusive relationship. We also support children and young people who have been victims or are at risk of sexual violence or exploitation.

This includes gang affected* young people who find themselves in a situation where they feel at risk or vulnerable.

 

*directly or indirectly affected by gangs –ie: family member has gang affiliation.

Are you affected by domestic abuse at home?

Are there often arguments between adults going on at your home?

Do they make you angry or upset?

Everyone has arguments, but this becomes domestic abuse when one-person tries to control another, by hurting or bullying them.

Domestic abuse isn’t just about hurting someone physically, it can also be hurting someone emotionally. For example, if one parent tries to control how all the money is spend regardless of who earnt it. Or if every day one parent tries to control who everyone can see, or what they can do.

Domestic abuse doesn’t just happen to adults. It can happen in young people’s relationships too.

Frequently asked questions

Will I make it worse if I tell on someone in my family?

If domestic violence is happening in your family it means that things are already not ok. By talking to a trusted adult, you can get the support you and the people in your family need and help keep you and them safe.

It’s important that if you’re scared or unsafe that you talk to a trusted adult as soon as you can. 

Is it my fault?

Absolutely NOT! Domestic abuse can happen in any family.

It is important to understand that all relationships have their ups and downs at times. Adults can get stressed about lots of things which can cause tension in a relationship i.e. Work, finances, ill health etc. It is never acceptable to be abusive towards anyone else despite the situation or circumstances.

Adults should take responsibility for their actions and be mindful of the impact it has on others around them.

Can I make it stop?

It is important to remember that if there is any domestic violence or abuse in your home that you keep yourself safe at all times.

Do not try to get involved to protect the person that is getting hurt as you may be putting yourself at risk of harm.

Who can help?

If you are scared when there is a fight happening at home call 999 and ask for the police. They will come any time of day or night and you will not get in trouble for making the call.

If you have a trusted adult you can talk to, let them know what is happening at home. This might be a teacher or doctor for example. Maybe you could talk to a family member such as an aunt, uncle or your grandparents. That way they are aware of the situation and may be able to advise the parent being abused to get support for themselves.

I only heard it and didn’t get hurt so why am I so upset?

It can be very upsetting to see or hear domestic abuse between people you love, as your loyalty can be divided. It is important that you talk to someone who can help you talk about how you are feeling. This will help you find ways to regulate your emotions. Just because you weren’t physically hurt, doesn’t mean that this has not affected you.

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.

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: Talk to a trusted adult or contact us on 0121 553 0090. If you think someone is in immediate danger, contact 999.

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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 (hyperlink to rape and sexual violence support page).

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.

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.

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“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.
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Getting in touch

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

Contact email address for more information: youngpeople@blackcountrywomensaid.co.uk

Contact phone number: 0121 553 0090

Text line (Mon-Fri 9-5): 07581 492 806

Looking after yourself

Grounding exercise

Everyone feels anxious and worried from time to time, and these feelings can be really overwhelming. This short exercise can help you to calm your thoughts and feel grounded in the present. Before starting, take some deep breaths as this will also help you feel calmer and more in control of your thoughts.

To calm down, I can name:

  • 5 things I can see
  • 4 things I can touch
  • 3 things I can hear
  • 2 things I can smell
  • 1 thing I can taste

Teens self-care toolbox

It’s normal to have both positive and negative emotions. The most important thing is that you be kind to yourself. Here are some ways to look after yourself:

  • Digital detox: turn your phone off for an hour
  • Edit your social media: follow people who make you happy and get rid of the rest
  • Enjoy some me-time: read a book, listen to music, do what makes you feel good
  • Move your body: go for a walk or dance
  • Take 7 deep breaths
  • Get some SLEEP
  • Write down 3 things you are thankful for
  • Journal: write about how you feel
  • Talk to someone if you need to: a friend, a trusted adult, or contact kooth.com or Childline.

Positive affirmations

Saying positive phrases out loud can make a big difference to your mood and your life. Why not try:

  • I love and appreciate who I am, right now
  • I matter
  • I trust myself
  • I belong, and I am good enough
  • No one can make me feel inferior without my consent
  • I can achieve my dreams
  • I surround myself with people who treat me well
  • I see the beauty in others
  • I can say no, and no will mean no
  • I control my emotions; they don’t control me
  • I have people who care about me and will help me if I need it
  • I accept and love the way I look without comparing myself to others
  • I give myself permission to do what is best for me
  • My opinion matters
  • I deserve to be heard
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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.

Service Resources

Mood Tracker

Template for you to complete

Everyday Consent

Explains the meaning of consent in everyday context

Consent in Relationships

When it comes to relationships there really isn’t anything more important than communication and trust. There’s another really important part of relationships too though, and that’s sex, but you know the most important thing about sex? Communication. It really is that simple.

Alfie's Story Part 1

A short film about a young boy groomed and criminally exploited by drug dealers.

Alfie's Story Part 2

A short film about a young boy groomed and criminally exploited by drug dealers.

Georgia’s Story

A short Film about grooming, and child sexual exploitation

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

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