Almost one in four girls in Sweden has been exposed to abuse in their relationship. Abuse in young people’s relationships can be just as severe as abuse in adult relationships, but unfortunately it is often not taken as seriously and many people – both young people and adults – don’t know how common it is.
Men’s violence against women starts with boys’ violence against girls
Abuse in young people’s relationships can take different forms, but most often it involves a boy abusing a girl. Patterns of power, violence and control often begin early and can grow if they are not stopped. This in turn can develop into what is known as men’s violence against women, which is when a man subjects his girlfriend, partner, wife or ex to some form of abuse. Men’s and boys’ violence against girls and women is a huge and serious problem, and one of the most important things that can be done to change that is to actively address boys’ violence against girls.
Working to prevent boys’ violence against girls can end the abuse that is already happening, while preventing future abuse and the serious, sometimes lethal, consequences it can lead to.
How can we prevent boys’ violence against girls and abuse in young people’s relationships?
Working against boys’ violence against girls and abuse in young people’s relationships needs to be properly funded and prioritised – we need stronger efforts on many fronts if we are to achieve a world where no young person is abused in their relationship. Among other things, we need to:
- Strengthen support and assistance to young people who are abused in their relationship. The national helpline that we offer on ungarelationer.se shows that the need for support and help, but also for preventive measures, is tremendous.
- Raise awareness about abuse in young people’s relationships. Although abuse in young people’s relationships is common, many people, both teenagers and adults, do not know what different types of abuse can look like and what warning signs to look out for. By gaining knowledge about boys’ violence against girls and abuse in young people’s relationships, we can better understand, intervene and prevent abuse.
- We need to prosecute young perpetrators. By prosecuting young people who commit criminal abuse, it is possible to show that abuse is unacceptable, and at the same time to put in place treatment interventions that can put an end to the abuse.
Read more about key measures in our report here.
Why are we talking specifically about “boys’ violence against girls and abuse in young people’s relationships”?
At ungarelationer.se, we talk a lot about boys’ violence against girls, but also about abuse in young people’s relationships. The reason we talk about it in this way is because both in our own work with young people and in national and global statistics, we see that abuse in intimate relationships usually means that a boy or a man abuses a girl or a woman. So on a more structural level, this is the most common form of abuse in relationships. Many reports also show that the abuse to which girls and women are subjected is often more severe, it happens repeatedly, it is more sexualised and it has more serious consequences.
We think it is important to shed light on the structure behind the abuse that mainly affects girls and women around the world. However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t take other forms, or that other abuse is okay. Girls can use abusive behaviour against boys, and there are also cases of abuse in same-sex and queer relationships. Violence can take different forms, but no matter how it manifests itself or who the perpetrator is, it is never okay.
A large part of our work involves offering help and support to young people who are victims of abuse, who are perpetrators themselves or who are friends of a victim/perpetrator. We believe that everyone should have access to support and help, regardless of gender or gender identity. Our chat room here at ungarelationer.se is open to anyone who needs help and support, and we also have a clinic in Stockholm where we can offer trauma treatment. We strive for social equality in which everyone has the right to a life without abuse!