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Abuse in young people’s relationships is when a young person abuses their girlfriend, boyfriend or partner or when a young person is abused by the person they are in a relationship with. It can also involve someone they see regularly, sleep with or used to go out with.
The abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual or digital. Controlling behaviour, making accusations or being aggressive are examples of emotional abuse. The abusee can also be physical, like beating or kicking, or crossing someone’s sexual boundaries or threatening to spread private photos or films on social media. The abuse and the situations can take many different forms. They nearly always include some form of emotional abuse.
Many people who have been abused say they feel like they’re in a “destructive/toxic relationship” where they are subjected to both minor and serious assault over a long period of time. The abuser exercises power over the other person, by making them feel intimidated, under pressure or insecure. The person being abused may feel they have to change the way they live in order to protect themselves.
The person who uses abusive behaviour is often the same age or a few years older, but even an age difference of just a few years can affect the balance of power in a relationship; for example, if one person lives at home and goes to school while the other has their own place and is earning money.