UK Government

Home Office: Abuse in teenage relationships tackled with new campaign

Press Release   •   Feb 15, 2010 10:55 GMT

A powerful new advertising campaign to challenge the attitudes of teenagers to violence and abuse in relationships was launched today by the Home Office.

The adverts send a strong message to 13 to 18 year olds, highlighting the signs and consequences of abuse, and challenging them to stop abusive behaviour or seek help.

The campaign includes:

* television adverts directed by top British director Shane Meadows, depicting a teenage girl being abused physically and emotionally by her controlling boyfriend. Teenagers are challenged “If you could see yourself would you see abuse?” and “If you could see yourself would you stop yourself?”;
* radio adverts challenging teenagers to recognise and reject abuse;
* posters showing teenagers in everyday situations, reflecting on their abusive or controlling relationships;
* a dedicated website giving teenagers information on abuse in relationships and where to go for help. It will include live online discussions where experts will answer questions about relationships and abuse;
* a viral allowing the user to interact with a “dream” boyfriend or girlfriend in which the boy becomes abusive, before messages that challenge teenagers to recognise and reject abuse;
* print adverts aimed at parents encouraging them to talk to their teenagers about relationship abuse;
* education in schools by working with the DCSF and stakeholders to produce school pack designed to provide school professionals and students with further information and suggestions about how to handle specific issues arising from the campaign; and
* leaflets for healthcare professionals from the Department of Health.

Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, said:

“We want to see young people in safe and happy relationships and this means tackling attitudes towards abuse at an early age, before patterns of violence can occur.

“We hope this campaign will help teenagers to recognise the signs of abuse and equip them with the knowledge and confidence to seek help, as well as understanding the consequences of being abusive or controlling in a relationship.

“Changing attitudes will take time but it is essential if we are going to stop violence against women and girls.”

A recent survey carried out by children’s charity NSPCC found that a quarter of girls and 18 per cent of boys reported some form of physical violence and nearly three quarters of girls reported some sort of emotional abuse in their relationships.

Director Shane Meadows said:

“It was great to work with the Home Office on such an important campaign. Teen violence is a subject that is close to my heart as I grew up in a place where violence and bullying were an integral part of life and accepted as the norm.

“My job as director was to make sure that these adverts are compelling, real and utterly authentic. They give you the chance to look back at yourself and your actions, and have a moment when you can step out of the immediacy and complexity of the moment. They show you that there is another choice.

“It’s a message I fundamentally believe in, and it’s what most of my films have been about – finding another way of leading your life. It’s a very powerful and valuable lesson.”

The campaign, funded by the Home Office and Department of Health, is the first part of a long-term communications plan announced in the Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls strategy launched in November 2009. It is part of the strategy’s wider work which aims to prevent violence occurring and is just one example of the government’s action to tackle violence and challenge attitudes that this kind of abuse is acceptable.
Violence against women and girls ruins lives, breaks up families and has a lasting impact across the generations. Much has been done over recent years to increase protection for women and to punish their attackers with new legislation, extra resources and front-line training.

This is a complex problem which demands a broader response to stop violence from happening in the first place. Changing attitudes that tolerate violence against women and girls will take time, but is essential if we are ever to break the vicious cycle.

Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos said:

"I have been working closely with the Home Office on the development of this incredibly important campaign.

"As part of my review into the sexualisation of young people I have highlighted how essential a campaign like this is in raising awareness of what constitutes abuse in relationships, whether it be emotional, physical or sexual, as well as challenging the attitudes that tolerate this. 

"My hope is that these adverts will help young people embarking on early relationships to understand what makes a healthy partnership and that abuse of any kind is totally unacceptable. This is vital in helping to prevent violence against women and girls."

Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan said:

“Professionals working with young people, including teachers, are often ideally placed to spot the signs of abuse. Teachers also have a unique position of trust that means young people feel they can talk to them, and will listen to their advice.

“Our information to schools will provide teachers with the advice and support they need to help young people experiencing violence or abuse. It is only through all professionals working together that we can hope to stamp out abuse of any kind and finally put a stop to the myth that violence within relationships should be tolerated.”

Health Minister, Ann Keen said.

“I know that many young people who are victims of domestic violence suffer in silence, too frightened to seek help or not knowing where to turn.

"Our forthcoming taskforce report on the health aspects of violence will make recommendations on what more the NHS can do to provide further support.

“It's essential that this is addressed and our cross-government campaign will ensure teenagers realise what support is available and how to take necessary steps towards ending abuse. We also hope it will encourage greater confidence to speak out and that many more young people will have healthier relationships as a result."

Deputy Minister for Women and Equality, Maria Eagle said:

"We have to make it clear beyond doubt that any form of violence against women and girls is unacceptable. This campaign will raise awareness amongst young people that they should not tolerate any violence or abuse, and help not only to change attitudes in the long-term but also to prevent violence from happening at all in teenage relationships." 
Sandra Horley, OBE and Chief Executive of Refuge, said:

"Up to two women are killed every week by a current or former partner. This is a huge statistic and one that we need to start addressing - and addressing fast if we're to save lives and protect young women in the future.

“It is essential that boys and girls learn that domestic violence is unacceptable and that healthy relationships are based on equality and mutual respect. If you’re a young woman and you think you might be experiencing abuse, or you’re not sure what some of the signs of abuse could be then get further information by visiting Getting support could save you years of misery and suffering. It could even save your life.”

The adverts will run over the next four weeks on television, radio, posters, print and online virals.


1. Adverts will run 15 February to 14 March. Adverts can be access at, user name: Press_Launch, password: HO_Press.

2. The campaign website can be found at:

3. The ‘Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls’ strategy was informed by one of the largest public consultations ever undertaken on the issue. Around 10,000 responses were received and more than 300 victims of violence shared their experiences and views in focus groups undertaken for the Home Office by the Women’s National Commission.

4. The strategy also draws on the initial findings of a number of more detailed reviews, including: the Health Taskforce examining the NHS response to VAWG led by Professor Sir George Alberti; the DCSF Violence Against Women and Girls Advisory Group on the role of schools in preventing VAWG, and Baroness Stern’s review into the response of the criminal justice system and other agencies to rape complaints. Reviews were undertaken into legal powers to control serial perpetrators led by Chief Constable Brian Moore, the sexualisation of young people conducted by Dr Linda Papadopoulos, and the experience of victims of rape of the criminal justice system by Sara Payne.

5. Copies of ‘Together We Can End Violence Against Women and Girls’ strategy are available at

6. NSPCC Partner Exploitation and Violence in Teenage Intimate Relationships, September 2009  surveyed 1,353 young people, between 13 and 17 years old from England, Scotland and Wales, the full report can be found at

7. TV adverts were directed by BAFTA award winning Shane Meadows, director of This is England, Somers Town, Le Donk and Scor-zay-zee among others.

8. The Health Taskforce examining the NHS response to violence against women and children is being led by Professor Sir George Alberti.

9. For more information please contact Home Office Press Office.


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