Young people often struggle to recognise the signs of unhealthy relationships. 
At Soundproofbox we believe that healthy behaviours should be not only instilled by parents but also taught in schools, colleges and universities. 
Identifying the ‘Red flags’ early can prevent violence or coercive control. 
Our young people are exposed to diet of reality tv, unregulated social media and a whole heap of peer pressure. There is more pressure on teens to look, act, think and feel a certain way than ever before because they have content streamed on their phones 24/7. 
They are also more informed and socially aware. However, often they don’t have the life experience and emotional regulation to recognise with things that are happening to them. 
Everything is a movie or Tiktok video, it can’t possibly be happening to me? 
So what happens when it is. Who steps in to support and sign post? 
I am not writing this article from the perspective of pointing the finger and laying the blame. I’ve had my own share of toxic relationships and been embroiled in the perils of online dating from time to time. I’ve made some devastating dating errors over the years. 
I’m using my experience as a 40 something woman to help out younger generations feel able to identify bad behaviour and speak out on it. 
How to spot if the young adults in your family are in a controlling relationship: 
They seem to be receiving a lot of messages back to back and when they read them they look shaky not happy. They are in a state of hyper vigilance. 
They’ve stopped hanging out with their friends 
They lie about small things and ask you to cover for them 
They can’t go to a party or function without their partner hanging around or calling them 
Their partner calls at their home all times of the day demanding to see them 
They’ve become secretive 
They’ve started to dress how their partner wants them to. Started to lose their identity 
They’ve given up on college or university 
They have lost interest in future pla 
They feel they are being compared to others and can’t compete, so feel worthless 
One or two of these maybe just a natural part of growing up. If the young adults you know are changing and withdrawing then it’s time to offer your support. 
What to do if you suspect someone in your family, your friend or student is in a controlling relationship. 
1. Let them know you are there for them 
2. Listen to what they have to say and don’t over question. Use open questions to take the emotion out. 
3. Don’t pass judgement on the partner (they will make excuses for them) you could drive them towards them not away from them 
4. Build up their self-esteem 
5. Help them to create some healthy boundaries around contact 
6. Get them to notice their gut instinct and trust it 
7. Get them to discuss future plans that don’t involve others 
8. Help them plan an exit from the relationship 
Remember to take small steps and don’t rush them into doing anything they aren’t ready for. A controlling relationship takes time to recover from and the first step is recognising it. There will be defensiveness, shame and denial so don’t push them away by voicing your opinion. 
Lise Kaye-Bell is CEO of Soundproofbox, an organisation offering training to workplaces and schools on the topic of domestic abuse. 
Tagged as: Education
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