The New Zealand Herald has run an in depth series on domestic violence this week and what is made clear in the editorial is that this is not a problem confined to one section of society; but rather one with victims who never dreamed they would be exposed to partner violence and often wonder how they ended up in such an untenable situation.
As part of the HUB programme at St Cuthbert’s we explore healthy relationships with our students. Part of keeping our girls safe is to give them the tools to recognise warning signs if and when they appear and to equip parents with the same knowledge.
Early warning signs can include:
- Power and control: dictating clothing choices, hair styles, social media interactions
- Possessiveness: wanting to know where partner is going and who they will be with constantly
- Isolation: making it difficult for partner to see family and friends
- Threats: to hurt partner or themselves
- Changeable behaviour: nice one minute, nasty the next
- Communication: haphazard and unreliable; never contacts first and keeps partner dangling
These days teenage relationships can occur more in the digital space than in the physical world. Texting, social media networks and apps can facilitate really positive relationships, but if things sour they can make it even harder for girls to extricate themselves from a bad relationship.
It is important to make clear to your daughter that if things are happening in her online world that she doesn’t like, she shouldn’t be ashamed to tell someone about it – a parent, a trusted teacher, a helpline support worker – so that a resolution in her best interests can be found; using the Harmful Digital Communications Act to prosecute if needed.
Examples of behaviours that contravene the act include posting or threatening to post private photos or video publically, written abuse or derogatory comments and threats to harm. For more information about the Act see a previous post here.
All teenagers can take action to make themselves safer online following a break up by following these steps:
If online passwords have been shared (or even if they haven’t) it’s a good idea to change them post-breakup.
Update Privacy Settings
Double check privacy settings on social media accounts and adjust if more privacy is required. Girls may also want to block their ex and the friends of their ex.
Turn Off Check-Ins
Consider turning off check-ins, especially if concerned about an ex having access to information about your current physical location.
Ask Friends Not to Tag You
If not comfortable with an ex knowing your whereabouts, ask friends not to tag you in pictures or check-ins.
More information about healthy online relationships can be found at loveisrespect.org.