What Is A Relationship?
As human beings we have lots of different relationships. We have friendships, family relationships and intimate partners (these can range from a steady boy/girlfriend to a one night stand.) Most relationships have unwritten rules that keep them ticking over. We usually have expectations about how we should be treated in our relationships, and how we should treat others. For example, you may not continue a friendship with someone who puts you down and makes you feel bad.
Romantic or sexual relationships can sometimes be a bit more complicated. When you really fall for someone it can be hard to see the warning signs of a unhealthy relationship. Relationship abuse is on the rise among young people. Many young people don't recognise their partner is controlling or abusive as it can start very subtly. It can creep up on you without you noticing.
What Is A Healthy Relationship?
A healthy relationship involves trust, respect and equality (where not one person is the boss or has most control) Some other ingredients of a healthy relationship are:
- Feeling safe and comfortable with your partner
- Valuing each other's opinions - even if they are different
- Supporting each other's dreams and ambitions
- Honesty and trust
- Having other interests that don't involve each other
- Accepting each other's friends and family
- Making each other laugh
- Only having sexual contact when both people want to
- Accepting each other for who you are
Warning Signs Of An Unhealthy Relationship
Both boys and girls can experience relationship abuse. It can happen in relationships with a same sex partner or with a partner of the opposite sex. It can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical. It is never the victims fault and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Abuse is never okay.
All relationships can have ups and downs and it's okay to argue. This is often a chance for couples to get their point across and work through their difficulties. If you're arguing all of the time and making each other miserable maybe it's time to move on. Some other warning signs may be:
- Trying to control your actions, clothing choices, where you go etc.
- Blaming you
- Threatening you - threats of violence or threats to leave, tell people things etc.
- Bullying and putting you down, embarrassing you in public
- Sexually demanding or using sex as a means of control - this could be forcing or manipulating you into sex or denying affection and sexual contact as a "punishment" This might also mean pressuring for nude or sexy pictures
- Keeping you away from friends & family (isolation)
- Hitting, biting, kicking or any other physical harm
- Always checking up on you - including checking your phone or private messages without permission and asking for your passwords
- Making you feel scared or making you cry
- Taking your money or other things
- Making all of the decisions
Who Can Help With Relationship Advice?
If you are a female in an abusive relationship you can get confidential support from Women's Aid across Tayside. You don't have to leave your partner to get help. Women's Aid can also support children and young people of any gender under the age of 18 if they are living with domestic abuse at home between parents or a parent and their partner.
If you are a male in an abusive relationship you can call Mankind for confidential support
If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Broken Rainbow can offer specific help around relationship abuse
You will always be believed and listened to.
Click here for a clip about young people and relationship abuse
Child Sexual Exploitation
Sometimes relationships can become scary or feel unmanageable. You may have heard of the term "child sexual exploitation" Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of young people under the age of 18 into sexual activity. Children in exploitative situations and relationships may receive gifts, money, affection, or even food and shelter, as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them. This can involve one or more than one person.
Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving relationship. They might be invited to parties, treated like adults and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed and exploited online.
It can be difficult to recognise the signs straight away.
If you are in this situation it is NEVER your fault and there is ALWAYS someone who can help.