Spotlight on young people for "16 Days of Action" in Wiltshire and Swindon
What makes a healthy or unhealthy relationship between young people will be the focus of this year's 16 Days of Action in Wiltshire and Swindon.
Wiltshire Council is joining forces with partners in Swindon and across the county to raise awareness of domestic abuse among young people, and encourage everyone to spot the signs and speak out.
16 Days of Action is a national campaign that runs every year from 25 November.
This year, Wiltshire schools are being encouraged to use tutorials to discuss with pupils what the signs can be and what to do if they are in an unhealthy relationship. There will also be evening sessions for teachers to help them support pupils and recognise what can be done. Posters, leaflets and social media posts will be shared throughout the 16 days to encourage people to speak out and seek help.
Warning signs of an unhealthy relationship where one partner is controlling or coercive can be:
- Isolation - no longer spending time with a usual circle of friends
- Being withdrawn or quieter than usual
- Always checking their phone
- Being angry or irritable when asked how things are
- Making excuses for a girlfriend or boyfriend
- Changing appearance, clothes or style
- Failing grades or truancy
- Self harm
Cllr Laura Mayes, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: "Abuse can be verbal as well as physical and sometimes it can be well hidden. We want to encourage people to speak out if they see something that isn't right and seek help if they are in an abusive relationship.
"It's important young people can recognise the signs both for their own relationships but also for their friends. Schools already highlight these issues with pupils and we hope that by having these conversations during these 16 days we will further raise awareness and help people find the support and advice they need.
"I would encourage people who have concerns to call us. For Wiltshire residents we have the Splitz Support service on weekdays and the Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service out of hours and weekends so there is always someone ready to take the call. Don't leave it - call us."
Councillor Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services, said: "It's important that we help young people understand what a healthy and unhealthy relationship looks like, both online and offline.
"Talking to your child about their relationship can be uncomfortable, but I'd strongly encourage parents to have these conversation in order to keep their children safe.
"If you are worried about your child, or a young person you know, you can contact our partners at the Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service (SDASS) on their 24-hour helpline."
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson said: "It is vitally important that we safeguard the youngest and most vulnerable in our communities and we are fully supportive of this campaign to help the public spot the signs of abuse and encourage people to speak out.
"Nobody should feel like they have to stay in an unhealthy relationship, no matter their age, and it is important to educate people from a young age that it is not ok to be treated this way.
"Domestic abuse is indiscriminate and can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, relationship type or ethnicity.
"During this second lockdown, we should feel safe in our own homes, but for some being at home puts them at higher risk. I urge people not to suffer in silence and the police are always there to listen and act.
"If you or a friend feel unsafe, I'd encourage you to tell someone you trust, whether that be a parent, a teacher, a youth worker or the police.
"You can always report it to the police by calling 101 or call 999 if you are in immediate danger."
If you are a victim of domestic abuse living in Wiltshire or are worried someone else may be a victim you can contact:
- Splitz Support Service 01225 775276 weekdays
- Out of hours/weekends call Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service 01793 610610
- In an emergency call 999