This July, The Mix is joining a coalition of 11 charities and digital organisations to ask all girls, women and non-binary people aged 13-24 in England and Wales what will help them avoid “toxic relationships” – or what adults call “domestic abuse”.
In the last year, 14% of 16 to 19 year old women reported experiencing domestic abuse (1) and 71% say they’d go to their best friend for advice (2) rather than to formal support services.
“I’ve like been in a situation where my best friend has gone out with someone, and she drifted away from us completely… he used to comment on her body as well about how it was fat and that. But like, I can just remember that I was so helpless, I couldn’t do anything because I think we were only about like fourteen. I didn’t have any knowledge, I didn’t have any education on how to, on where to go if someone’s going through a really unhealthy relationship and that”
(Young person, 17-19 years)
“Like your instincts are telling you that there’s something wrong but…maybe you’ve never experienced love before and you’re like, no, this is what people have been talking about, this is what love is meant to feel like”
(Young person 20-24)
“I had a friend who never really had a proper relationship and felt that they had to send nudes…to people who they were dating online, and it was quite scary having to be on the end, having to persuade them not to do it, because it can be a really, really damaging thing”
(Young person, 13-16 years)
What is Your Best Friend?
‘Your Best Friend’ is a new project that aims to resolve the conflict faced by all those best friends out there, caught between wanting to honour their friend’s confidentiality and needing to keep them safe with information and help. Together with young people, Your Best Friend will give them the knowledge, confidence, and tools to keep themselves and their friends safe in their intimate relationships.
In the last two months, groups of young people from across England and Wales have been telling Your Best Friend expert partners about the problems they face around toxic relationships, and what they need to keep them safe.
Now, domestic abuse charity SafeLives and its partners are asking all 13-24 year old girls, women and non-binary people to tell them about how they talk to their best friends about relationship concerns and what solutions they want to see, through their Your Best Friend – #WhatWillWork survey. All feedback and ideas are welcome, from apps to real life projects, and will be developed to help tens of thousands of young people, through peer resources, groups and networks across England and Wales.
SafeLives has teamed up with digital experts and organisations who work every day with diverse young people from all across England and Wales. The consortium is made up of SafeLives, The Mix, Hafan Cymru, Llamau, Super Being Labs, Galop, PODS, YANA, Lancashire BME Network, Muslim Youth Helpline and On Our Radar, and is funded by the DCMS’s Tampon Tax Fund, which supports projects that improve the lives of disadvantaged women and girls.
Suzanne Jacob, OBE, Chief Executive of SafeLives said:
“We need to listen to young people and make sure their voices are heard. They need to be at the forefront of developing solutions to challenge unhealthy relationships and toxic behaviour. It’s not OK. It’s never OK. Let’s stop abuse before it starts – calling it out and building the kinds of relationships based on trust and love that young people want.”
The survey opens on Monday, 5th July and closes midnight on Monday, 26th July.
The results will be used to help the Your Best Friend team identify opportunities to develop peer to peer support, including grants for grassroots organisations or projects, training for young people and youth workers, policy development and more.