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For you who work with young people

You who interact with and/or work with young people are not only obligated but also able to help young people who are living with violence. On this page, you will find concrete tips and support for your work.

As part of preventing violence and increasing awareness, the Swedish Gender Equality Agency, the county administrative boards, and ungarelationer.se have prepared a set of concrete support materials. We hope this can be one of several puzzle pieces necessary for you who interact with young people to start or expand your violence prevention work.

Support materials on boys’ violence against girls and youth intimate partner violence (PDF)  The support materials are only available in Swedish at the moment.

23 percent of girls/young women (ages 16-24) stated that they have been exposed to violence by a partner or former partner.

In the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention’s (Brå) report Brott i nära relationer bland unga (Domestic abuse in young people’s relationships) (PDF), 23 percent of girls/young women (ages 16-24) stated that they have been exposed to violence by a partner or former partner. The equivalent number for boys/young men was 14 percent. It is therefore likely that you have young people around you who have experienced violence. Almost all groups of young people include one or more people who have been exposed to violence by a parent, another relative, someone they are in a relationship with, or someone else. Be aware that someone in the group may need support. At every opportunity, tell them they can talk privately with you if they want and that help is available. 

The campaign Jealousy is not romantic

The purpose of the campaign Jealousy is not romantic is to draw attention to and prevent boys’ violence against girls and youth intimate partner violence. We want to welcome reflection on the state of one’s relationships and what a good relationship could be. The campaign is a yearly event, taking place between 1 February and 31 March.

We have prepared campaign materials aimed at young people. This includes information on where to turn if they want advice and support or to know more about boys’ violence against girls and youth intimate partner violence. 

Your municipality/organisation/business can participate in the campaign by:

  • disseminating the material directly to young people and to professionals who interact with the target group.
  • providing information on the organisations in, for example, your municipality where young people can turn.
  • organising local or regional activities that draw attention to youth intimate partner violence and market the activities using the campaign material.

Videos for dissemination

There are three videos available for the campaign. The videos are suitable for dissemination on social media. Feel free to use them in combination with activities your organisation organises along with the hashtag #jealousyisnotromantic or #svartsjukaärinteromantiskt

Video: Are you afraid of the person you are with? English subtitle

Video: Is your friend suffering in their relationship? English subtitle

Video: Do you always want to keep track of your partner? English subtitle

What is youth intimate partner violence?

Boys’ violence against girls and youth intimate partner violence often follow the same pattern as violence in adult relationships and may consist of different types of sexual assault, psychological violence such as control and threats, and physical violence such as pushing, hitting, and choking. With digital and interactive media came control and psychological violence via mobile phones and social media, so-called digital violence. This can be texting or calling to constantly keep track of where the partner is and who they are with, or having access to their partner’s passwords for social media and limit the people they are allowed to have as friends on social media.

Being exposed to multiple forms of violence at once is often the rule, not the exception. Violence occurs in both heterosexual and LGBTQ relationships. In our society, men and boys have more power than women and girls on a structural level. Exerting violence may be a way of maintaining one’s position and not losing power.

Thereby, girls are exposed to domestic violence to a greater extent than boys and the consequences and vulnerability are greater among girls victimised by boys. The fact that young people, especially boys, are allowed to be violent in a relationship and/or after a relationship causes a lot of suffering to individuals and has major socio-economic consequences.

It is important to remember that young people’s living conditions may impact the individual’s vulnerability to violence and where society’s interventions fail. For example, being exposed to honour-related violence and oppression and/or being a LGBTQ person, having an impairment, or being a victim of sexual exploitation.

When the outside world diminishes certain violent behaviours, the risk of continued and more brutal violence increases.

Even though young people are exposed to violence in intimate relationships to a greater extent than adults, this is something the adult world sometimes do not want to acknowledge. Jealousy and control issues are romanticised and part of the perceptions of how a partner relationship should be. Serious incidents are minimised and excused as immature acts. When the outside world diminishes certain violent behaviours, the risk of continued and more brutal violence increases.

What you as a professional can and shall do

Young people appreciate adults who have the courage to talk about consent, sexuality, and destructive relationships. Experiences from conversations with young people also show that they are seeking knowledge, support, and help from adults, and sometimes just an adult who will show that they want and dare to listen.

You who work with young people have great opportunities and ways to discuss boys’ violence against girls in young people’s intimate relationships. Perhaps you have the advantage of encountering the same young people on a regular basis, or you work in an organisation that young people seek out.

You who work with children and young people have a duty of reporting. If you suspect a child is being mistreated, it shall be reported to Social Services.

Report to Social Services on known or suspected child maltreatment – National Board of Health and Welfare

If you suspect a child or young adult is being abused or is exposing someone to violence right now, call 112.

The more adults who talk about boys’ violence against girls and youth intimate partner violence, and the more educated young people are, the easier it will be for them to talk about their relationships with adults. When adults who interact with young people talk about violence, they contribute to reducing feelings of guilt and shame, which may lead to more young people seeking support and help. Regardless of what role you have, it is important for you to have answers to give regarding the support available to the victim or victimiser. Before you raise the issue, research what kind of support and help is available to young people in your municipality.

Violence is strongly associated with poorer physical and mental health among young people. Young people have a positive view on routine questions on vulnerability to violence. The questions help them put their experiences into words, which may lead to positive changes such as initiating support contacts, ending destructive relationships, and getting help dealing with the consequences of the violence and getting protection. Routinely asking about violence is an important part in preventing violence. For you who work in student health, at a youth clinic, or interact with young people in other situations, more information on how you can ask about violence is available.

Palm, A (2016) Studies on routine inquiry about violence victimization and alcohol consumption in youth clinics. Avhandling. Uppsala universitet.

It is important to notify parents of your concern regarding a young person, regardless of whether it is someone you believe may be exposed to violence or a person exercising violence. But remember to consider that the young person may also be exposed to violence from one of the parents or be a victim of honour-related violence and oppression where the young person is not allowed to have a relationship.

If you need advice and counsel in a situation where the young person risks being exposed to honour-related violence and oppression, you can call the national helpline, telephone +46 (0)10 223 57 60 or visit the website www.hedersfortryck.se/english.

The violence must be stopped, norms legitimising violence must be challenged, and young victims of violence must have support and help. The same applies to young perpetrators of violence who need support and help to stop using violence and to take responsibility for their actions. In the long run, your work with this material will contribute to fewer young people living with violence in their relationships, which means that fewer people will be exposed to violence, fewer will learn to live with violence, and fewer will have learned to be an abuser, in relationship after relationship.

According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), nearly one in five young people ages 16-24 (18 percent) stated that they have at some point been a victim of systematic abuse and humiliation, attempted restrictions on personal liberty, threats, harassment, assault, or sexual offenses perpetrated by a current or previous partner. Among women, 23 percent state that they have been victimised, compared with 14 percent of men. The most common form is psychological violence such as abuse or attempted restrictions on personal liberty; 21 percent of women and just under 12 percent of men claim to have been victimised.

Source: Brottsförebyggande rådet. Våld bland unga 2018 (PDF) 

Men’s violence against women and boys’ violence against girls is the extreme consequence of an unequal society. As men are the majority perpetrators of violence against both girls and women and boys and men, we must focus on severing the tie between masculinity and violence. We must challenge the perceptions of masculinity and what a man is and should be, which increases the risk of using violence. This premise is supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which highlights that strategies to promote equality and change norms that support violence are important in effective violence prevention. 

Engaging men and boys in changing gender-based inequity in health (PDF)

Around 80 percent of those suspected of crimes against another person are men. This applies regardless of whether we are talking about crimes against persons in public spaces or crimes against intimate partners and relatives, but it particularly applies to crimes such as rape and sexual harassment, where 98 percent of all suspects are men. With respect to abuse of girls and women, 77 percent of suspects are men, while 81 percent of suspects are men in cases of abuse of boys and men.

Physical, psychological, and sexual violence are concrete acts that are almost always perpetrated by a man/boy. The violence is directed towards children, women, other men, and sometimes even animals. No-one who lives with men, fathers, and sons want them to be or become violent. Despite this, boys and men are responsible for the majority of the violence perpetrated in the world. How can we make sense of that?

The American researchers Oransky and Fisher have demonstrated how masculinity norms may contribute to young males developing abusive and violent behaviours. According to the researchers, these norms can be described as:

  • Constant Effort – to constantly work to prove oneself tough and strong.
  • Emotional Restriction – to be emotionally limited both with respect to one’s own and other people’s emotions, for example by primarily accessing anger.
  • Heterosexism – a categorical disparaging of, contempt for, or avoidance of femininity and homosexuality.
  • Social Teasing – constantly being able to tease other boys and endure constantly being teased. May be expressed as dealing with ‘locker room talk’.

 

Boys and men relate to these norms on being a ‘real’ man. A ‘real’ man shall be in control, not feel, be tough, and take a hit. Pain is belittled and feelings of vulnerability are suppressed. These norms of masculinity limit and even prevent boys and men from growing into equal and empathetic people who do not use violence.

Boys’ and young men’s violence against girls and young women generally start during adolescence. The violence usually consists of a combination of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in combination with controlling behaviours. Numbers from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) show that young girls are not only overrepresented as victims of sexual offenses, but also of violence in close relationships. Usually, the aggressor is, in both cases, a boy of the same age or slightly older.

When we understand how formation of masculinity and violence are connected, it becomes possible for us to identify which norms play into the use of violence. These norms need to be challenged to make room for other, non-violent behaviours in the social interaction between boys or young men, but also in the interaction with girls and young women. This suggests that challenging masculinity norms may be one of many necessary steps to eventually counteract violence in young people’s lives, and in the lives of adults.

The demands for loyalty between boys and between young men make it difficult for individuals to have a differing and problematising opinion on what masculinity is. One way of handling these unspoken demands is to simply not have a differing opinion. This means that for the formation of masculinity to become less violent, it is not sufficient to strengthen individual boys and young men. The work on challenging young boys’ ideas of what it means to become a man needs to enter the social settings where boys and young men gather, for example during recreational activities and in peer groups. We as adults need to problematise how we think about boys in a group to find ways of countering and challenging boys’ group behaviour. All those who interact with young people have a great opportunity here to discuss important matters regarding relationships, power, and violence with young people. One tip is to use Machofabriken, which is a methodological material for practical work towards equality and against violence together with young people.

Focus is on masculinity norms and the material consists of short videoclips and exercises. Some of the topics discussed include sexual violence, jealousy and control, pornography, and online vulnerability.

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