Detective Constable’s Bob Scott and Chris Howarth from Cheshire Police have been delivering workshops on the theme of teenage abuse at local universities and colleges across Cheshire over the last month.
The workshops were delivered as part of the Home Office’s ‘This is Abuse’ and Cheshire Police’s own ‘Speak out, don’t be silent’ campaigns. They sought to raise issues about teenager’s attitudes toward abuse and highlight how tolerant some young people are toward violence in relationships - one in five young men and one in ten young women think that abuse or violence against women is acceptable.
Groups of students from Mid Cheshire College, Crewe MMU (part of Manchester Metropolitan University) and Ellesmere Port Campus at West Cheshire College all participated. Laura Ramli, Student Union at Crewe University said that "Domestic abuse is often considered a taboo subject so it’s important that we work with the police and their partners to try and help students get out of this mentality and raise the awareness. Educating students on what to look out for, and the importance of speaking up if they are victims will help us to do this. The talks were well received and students felt more confident that they would be able to spot the signs in other couples, or know who to speak to if they became victims themselves."
According to the Home Office, abuse occurs frequently in teenage relationships. Nearly 75% of girls have reported some form of emotional partner violence. In the words of a victim, who supported the Cheshire Police campaign and who suffered severe domestic abuse in her early twenties, "My advice to others would be to recognise the signs of abuse. There were issues of controlling behaviour very early on, but I ignored them, thinking it was normal behaviour. I knew it wasn’t right but didn’t take it as anything serious. So I would urge victims to ‘speak out’ because it will only get worse if you don’t tell anyone."
DC Chris Howarth commented that "The teen abuse campaign was our way of channelling advice to young people. We had identified a need for delivering talks of this nature to students and wanted to bridge that gap. The workshops encouraged participation and were given to a broad range of students, from 16/17 year olds involved in child care courses to students at university.
In particular, we focused on "No means No" and the importance of respect being shown by the partner in relationships. Aspects of controlling behaviour were discussed and warning signs highlighted, some certainly hit home from the reaction of a number of the students.