*CONTENT WARNING* TEENAGE RELATIONSHIP ABUSE, SEXUAL ABUSE, PHYSICAL ABUSE, EMOTIONAL/PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE.
Before we start, this is an incredibly difficult thing for anybody to open up about, it is a difficult topic and nobody should be forced to speak about this unless they want to.
If you are suicidal, having suicidal thoughts or you feel unsafe, please know that this blog contains talk of self harm and hospitalisation. Know that you are not alone and that you can contact these places for immediate support:
Samaritans: 116 123 (24/7 for everyone)
CALM: 0800 58 58 58 (5pm-midnight)
Childline: 0800 1111 (children under 19 only)
Papyrus: 0800 068 41 41 (9am-midnight for under 35 only)
Okay, let’s talk about Teenage Relationship Abuse.
Abuse in relationships is when you begin to feel scared or controlled by the person you’re with. You may be confused because it feels like a loving relationship, but often only when you behave in a certain way. This can happen at any age and regardless of gender (Children Society, 2021).
I feel that this is a really important topic to share with students. This is my personal journey and always struggled to find other people’s experiences online so I wanted to share this for others. Whether you are going through, or have gone through a similar situation, or you are a student parent or carer who is seeking advice about your child, or whether you want to know more about this subject, I hope that this helps you. Most of our lives are now indoors meaning that there isn’t always somewhere that you can escape to safety, please ensure that you can put your safety first. I have included some helplines and some places to access support. You are not alone.
Let’s backtrack to me being 14, I was pretty much carefree, enjoying all the lunch-time and after-school sports clubs I could possibly get involved in, I hit 15. Before I knew it I was in a relationship, it happened really fast and I was very secretive about it when it came to talking to my parents.
Within weeks I quickly began to disobey household rules (staying over at a boy’s house, being out too late); and without even realising it, I had completely disassociated myself with my family, I started to resent them, because my boyfriend gave me reason to hate them. Within two weeks, I had dyed my hair, stopped dressing sporty and started dressing to impress him. Changing the way you look to suit your partner is a very prominent sign of teenage relationship abuse (TRA), you’re amazing how you are.
*CW SEXUAL ABUSE - Get me out of here link - https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather *
I had never slept with a boy before, and my boyfriend was adamant that I needed to have sex with him for him to be in a relationship with me. I remember being compared to his ex who he was very sexually active with, this made me feel unworthy (another sign of TRA). One night, he decided it was time and talked me into it, I remember looking to the side laying down, not knowing what to do. I was talked into enjoying it, but I was 15 and manipulated, I didn’t want it. I was told how to pleasure myself by him, and he told me that I would like it. I was a child, and I thought that this boy loved me, I was led to believe that this was normal. Please know and understand, that for somebody to love you you don’t need to have sex with them, especially when you’re not ready to do so. Being manipulated into any sexual act is abuse.
*CW EMOTIONAL ABUSE - Get me out of here link - https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather *
After the sexual abuse, came the emotional abuse, where him and his dad (‘like father, like son’ - a quote from his mum…) told me that I needed to get away from my family because they aren’t good for me and they don’t understand me. They would both humiliate me at times and told me which friends were bad for me. Him and his dad would feed me, what I now know to be, emotionally manipulative thoughts about my family, my friends, teachers, my social life, everything. I pushed away all my friends, especially my bestest friend who I’ve never really reconnected with and I’ll always regret that. I stopped attending my netball club, I stopped attending after-school clubs, and for me this was really odd. These are all huge signs of TRA and shouldn’t be ignored, if you stop doing the things you loved doing, and you push away your friends because your partner tells you that they are not good for you, this isn’t a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship involves respect, trust and consideration for the other person (Kids Health, 2021).
I quickly became so isolated and anxious, because he would play with my emotions, pick me up and drop me all the time. Tell me I was his girlfriend, then break up with me again, as soon as I showed a slight bit of power over him, he would manipulate me back and then gain control of me again very quickly. There were times that he would go to meet his ex-girlfriend and I would just have to be okay with it because if I wasn’t, he would tell me about how I’m manipulative and that I don’t trust him, well… it speaks for itself. But if your partner deflects their own actions onto you like in my example, this shows another sign of abuse, and you need to know that you are not in the wrong, you never are. He would check my phone on the daily, but not allow me to see his phone. I knew exactly what was going on, and in the past year I was able to connect with a couple of the girls who he was talking to at the same time, who also experienced most, if not all of the same things that I speak about in this blog.
*CW - PHYSICAL ABUSE - Get me out of here link - https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather *
Not long after, the ‘jokey’ physical abuse began, where he would punch me countless times and then tell me it was a joke, and yes I just sat and took it. I’d go home and try to hide the bruises, I never even gave them a second thought because he told me it was a joke, so it must have been a joke, right? If your partner harms you in any way, whether this be slapping, pushing, grabbing, shaking, this is abuse and again, it is not your fault or any reflection on you, even if they make you feel that it is. Usually, after being physically abusive, your partner might apologise and tell you that they will change, it is unlikely that they won’t do this again. You need to protect yourself, whether they meant to do it, or if it was a ‘joke’ or even if they tell you it was an accident, it is wrong.
I was so privileged to grow up in a family where I didn’t need to worry about things, so the moment my mind became confused, especially in such a short space of time, I didn’t know how to manage emotions that I had never had to deal with before, this is where the self harm started, another sign of TRA. Being 15, I didn’t understand myself, I didn’t think rationally and I thought that this was my best option. Not thinking how serious this was, and how damaging this was for my family, who I am so appreciative of. Self harm and suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of TRA and it is important to understand and realise why you feel the way you do, is someone else influencing your thoughts?
Speaking of my family, I have never seen my dad cry in my whole life, apart from one night when I tried to run away, I pulled out my hair and screamed my house down. I was 15 and I really did not know how to manage my emotions. I’ll never forget looking into my parents room and seeing my dad’s head in his hands, it broke my heart. Very quickly, my family and I got support and my family were forced to quickly adapt to how to look after and understand TRA, and I must admit, they were absolutely incredible and I can still never find the words about how thankful I am, apart from being the best version of myself that I can be and making them proud.
It was only very recently that I actually came to terms with the fact that I was in an abusive relationship as a teenager. For so long I just didn’t want to talk about it, since realising, I have accessed support because it is really important to me that I move on from this in every sense that I can, because for years I bottled all of this up and put it down to a toxic relationship, but in all honesty, I believe that the relationship stole years of my life away from me, which I may write about in a future blog.
I also hope to write about ways that helped me to get out of the relationship, and ways that my parents supported me through the relationship, because if this reaches anybody who is going through the same thing, then I want to give you the honest truthful advice. I’m not a professional, but I speak with experience! Just know that if you are affected by a similar situation, you are not alone.
You can access information and support here: