Young people experience the highest rates of domestic abuse of any age group. Regardless of whether they can access adult support, evidence suggests that young people need a different response to adults. Young people experience a complex transition from childhood to adulthood, which impacts on behaviour and decision making. It may impact on the way that they respond to the abuse as well as the way that they engage with services. As a result, young people who experience domestic abuse do so at a particularly vulnerable point in their lives.

This webpage will provide you information on healthy teenage relationships, warning signs of abuse to look out for and the kind of help & assistance available.

Watch our Healthy Teenage Relationship campaign videos


Watch our Healthy Teenage Relationship campaign videos


New Domestic Abuse Act 2020

This is currently going through the UK parliament. Will make a legal definition of domestic abuse. Proposes that domestic abuse victims and perpetrators must both be aged 16 years or over.

However, there is acknowledgement that:

  • In the criminal justice process that teenagers can experience intimate relationships.
  • This means protective orders such as Restraining Orders can benefit victims under 16, as well as determining if diversion or prosecution is appropriate to help early intervention for perpetrators who’re aged under 16 years of age.

Becoming a Young Person

Adolescence is the transition from childhood to adulthood.

During this period both physical and psychological developmental changes take place. The age bracket for these changes can range from 11 to 20 years.

The nature of this transition means that it impacts on the social, emotional, psychological, physical and biological development of the young person.

These challenges can occur in all areas of a young persons life. If they’re not dealt with successfully, it can increase vulnerability and reduce emotional resilience

Young People At Risk of Domestic Abuse

Heterosexual and young people who identify as LGBTQ can experience similar patterns of Domestic Abuse, there are however some specific issues that are unique to LGBTQ victims.

  • Threats to disclose their sexual orientation, or ‘OUT’ them to family, friends or work colleagues.
  • Increased isolation because of factors such as lack of family support.
  • Limiting or controlling access to spaces or networks relevant to the LGBTQ community.
  • Poor experience or believing there are no services available.
  • Withholding medication or preventing treatment needed to express the victims gender identity.
  • Targeting areas of their body where they may have had surgery during physical assaults.
  • Refusing to use the correct pronouns preferred by the victim.
  • Telling others about their Trans background/identity.


(reference: Crime Survey for England and Wales: year ending March 2018 Stats): The % of gay men (5.1%) or bisexual men (5.6%) who experienced abuse from a partner in 2017/2018 is double the number for heterosexual men (2.2%)

Warning signs for young people

Young people in abusive relationships often experience the abusive partner;

  • Constantly checking their phone and/or emails without permission.
  • Putting them down in front of others or to their face.
  • Trying to stop them seeing family and friends.
  • Mood swings and explosive temper.
  • Possessiveness and extreme jealously.
  • Making false accusations.
  • Asking them to take part in ‘sexting’.
  • Making them have sex without consent.
  • Making them watch pornography or filming them having sex.
  • Telling them what they can/can’t wear, where they can/can’t go.
  • Physically hurting them in any way.
  • Saying they will hurt themselves/someone else if they don’t do something.

Do you know what Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (APVA) is?

Child to parent abuse is also commonly known as adolescent to parent violence and abuse. It’s increasingly recognised as a form of domestic abuse. SafeLives data has shown that young people accessing services who cause harm to family members can do so through the same broad categories of behaviour seen in other forms of domestic abuse: physical violence was the most prevalent, with 57% of young people causing physical harm and nearly a quarter (24%) demonstrated jealous and controlling behaviour.

As mentioned previously in the module, this term can apply to young people causing harm who are aged 13 years or over. First and foremost, it is a child protection matter. If you’re concerned about any child aged under 18 who’s harming their parent, then you must follow the local safeguarding children partnership’s effective support guidance.

What Advice to Give to a Young Person?

If they’re aged 18 years or under, tell them if they’re concerned about their relationships, they can call Childline: 0800 1111

Or they can call the confidential local domestic helpline on 0800 69 49 999 (any gender). Or the national domestic abuse helpline can help girls worried about domestic abuse in their intimate relationships, their number is 0800 2000 247.

Galop National, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Domestic Abuse Helpline 0800 999 5428 or

Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (SARSAS) – 0808 801 0456 or 0808 808 0464

If it’s an emergency, call the police 999. Or if they can’t speak, listen to the questions and tap or cough to answer. Press 55 to signal an emergency.