TEENAGERS in Cheshire are being told to speak out if they are aware of an abusive relationship.
They may not necessarily be the victim or the perpetrator but may know someone who is.
In some cases the abuse may be so much part of a way of life for both the victim and the abuser that they are unaware it exists.
PC Elizabeth Stanton, a schools liaison officer, said: “It's a common misconception that relationship abuse just affects adults. It's also easy to forget that it is not always physical abuse. Statistics show that 75% of girls and 50% of boys have experienced some form of emotional abuse.”
Cheshire Police is supporting the national campaign for awareness of teenage relationship abuse; getting the message across to young people through the Safer Schools Partnership.
PC Stanton said: “It is important to convey to young people that abuse in relationships is not normal or acceptable. People are not always aware that abuse can be psychological as well as physical. Victims of abuse often believe they are to blame for how they are treated.
“Cheshire Police reiterates the message that abuse is never OK.
Anger, jealousy, or alcohol are not acceptable excuses for violence.
“The safer schools officers continually discuss issues relating to relationship abuse, along with the topic they are teaching. The message is clearly conveyed that any type of abuse is unacceptable.
“Speaking to young people in schools at an early age can help prevent them becoming victims or perpetrators. Young people also need to know that if they are in an abusive situation help and guidance is available. No one should suffer in silence or feel afraid to speak out. It is also important to make young people aware that if they know of someone else being abused or abusing that they should not be afraid to speak out.
“A big aspect of the campaign is raising awareness of what constitutes abuse and what a normal, healthy relationship should be like. Physical and psychological abuse can often be a consequence of other issues that we discuss, such as drug and alcohol problems.”
The national campaign will be targeting girls and boys aged 13-18. The campaign also seeks to reach parents and other adults who may become aware of an abusive relationship.
More advice and information is available on the home office website www.homeoffice.gov.ukand www.cheshirethesharpsystem.com.