Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy and we are all still learning. It is difficult to cope with all these new emotions and to be frank, it doesn’t get any easier. There are plenty of adults that still can’t get their head around how relationships should work – and then putting it into practice when you do get it is another thing altogether!
It is normal to feel out of control and scared. Trusting someone is a scary thing to do. Getting close to another person and letting them into your secret little world within your head is not easy – they can and will let you down – and you will get hurt.
However, just because you are scared does not give you the right to behave badly. Quite often as we fight to keep a grip on our own insecurities we turn into bullies. It is a misconception that bullies are tough and strong. Indeed, it is when you are feeling out of your depth – the easiest thing to do is to make those around you feel small in an attempt to make ourselves feel better and to mask our own insecurities. In an attempt to stop our partners for leaving us we turn them into victims too scared to leave – unfortunately we also push them away from us and more likely to hate and fear us. Is it really better to be with someone because they are too scared to leave or because they choose to stay because you make them happy?
No one likes to be controlled, to be pressured and bullied as a victim and prisoner.
It is difficult as most relationships do not start off as abusive. They move that way as we attempt to deal with our own insecurities and try to cope with feeling hurt. When we feel small or have been embarrassed or feel a fool it is natural to then become angry – in fact it is impossible to be angry without first being hurt first and by that I mean emotionally hurt. It is only one step on to turn that anger in to aggression or nasty manipulative behaviour of abuse.
In the end it is up to you not to behave in this way and not to allow yourself to be treated like that.
You do not have to stand for it and the sooner you put an end to it the easier it will be. Do not allow yourself to become a victim. No one likes to be abused but equally no one likes to be the bully. Make it clear that even though they are upset it does not give them the right to behave in such a way. Walk away, let them calm down before you try to address why they are behaving in such a way.
Try these scenarios for early warning signs in relationships: Early warning signs
This is especially important when it comes to sex. When young people are in a relationship, especially once they have hit the big 16 – there seems to be the expectation that they should be having sex, or trying new things or doing what everyone else is up to. However, it is important to stress if they are not ready they always have the right to say no. Just because they are in a relationship or have been flirting or they change their mind – does not mean they have any obligation… make sure you avoid any victim blaming language and always highlight they importance of proper consent. To find out more about consent click here:
However, it is equally important to be honest and explain it is not unusual for people to sometimes get upset or angry when they are told no – this is an important aspect to speak honestly about. It is only by acknowledging behaviours that we can change them.
Unfortunately, people can often take a ‘no’ to equate to a personal rejection – you don’t want to have sex with them – are they no good at it, not fit enough or you don’t fancy/love them anymore… (as we pointed out above – one of the draw backs of the big deal we make about sex and love) This is obviously not the case; unfortunately, sex often makes people very insecure.
That being said – insecurity it is never an excuse – it is important to empower young people and highlight these behaviours so they can recognise them, in themselves and their partners and not allow themselves to be blackmailed or pushed in to doing things they are unhappy about.
Equally, it is important to unpick how the person trying to manipulate their way into getting what they want is feeling too and why they are behaving in that way. Talk through the consequences – aside from the obvious ethical and legal issues – it is unlikely to be enjoyable for either of you if your partner is only doing it because you are pressuring them – is that really how you want sex to be for you both?
Again this is a a great time to use the “would you see abuse clip”
It is not easy to stand up to abusive behaviour. It is even harder to walk away from someone you really care for because they continually mistreat you. Equally, it is often to spot this controlling behaviour in the first instance and recognise there is actually a problem. Again this is the importance of allowing young people the opportunity to look at people in various relationships and to unpick why people are acting or behaving in a particular way…
Whenever you debrief a film clip, programme, or book always ask the class why they think people are behaving the way they are – ask them how they feel or what expectations they may be constrained by… do they really believe what they are saying or want to do what they are doing…?
Equally, encourage your pupils to play with the “Relationship Health Checker” on the Respect Yourself website. If they practice in class and are familiar with it – they are more likely to use it honestly at home for their own relationships.
To keep exploring (un)healthy relationships read these pages: