#SpeakSense, a new campaign developed by young people with the backing of Westminster City Council, aims to raise awareness among young men and women on the different ways a relationship can be unhealthy, and what to say or do if a friend talks to them about issues that could indicate abusive behaviour.
Relationship abuse is most common among people aged 16-24, with young women most at risk. As most young people would only ever tell a friend about any relationship issues, making sure that they know how to respond to possible signs of abuse is essential to help prevent it.*
The project counts on the support of relationship vlogger and YouTube sensation Hannah Witton who is featured in the #SpeakSense film. Inspired by the findings of extensive youth consultations on relationships, the film shows young actors interpreting common reactions to real life abuse scenarios.
Hannah Witton said: “We all talk to our friends about our intimate relationships in one way or another, so it is really important to be able to recognise abuse and speaking sense when we see someone caught up in it. Providing the right support at the right time can make a huge difference, and ultimately save lives. I am excited and proud to be a part of the #SpeakSense campaign, as better knowledge of abuse is needed to enable more young people to have the happy and healthy relationships they deserve.”
Alongside the film, additional information and listings of local and national support services for young victims and perpetrators of abuse have been made available at speaksense.org.
Councillor Rachael Robathan, Cabinet Member for Adults and Public Health at Westminster City Council, said: “Domestic abuse, including unhealthy relationships, are common issues with serious consequences for health and wellbeing. We are deeply committed to finding more ways of preventing this unacceptable crime. The fact that young people are more at risk of abuse is alarming and requires immediate attention. With #SpeakSense, we want to engage young men and women in spreading the message that everyone can help prevent abuse, even if they are not directly affected themselves.”
Nourhan Meddah, member of the Westminster Youth Council, said: “Lots of people might not recognise things such as your boyfriend telling you not to wear a particular top, or wanting to check your messages, as a sign of an unhealthy relationship. I hope that our campaign will empower more young people to speak sense and take a stand against abuse, regardless if that means supporting a victim or challenging a perpetrator.”
*According to the findings of the March 2015 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), and several youth consultations carried out in Westminster in November 2015.