Young people and youth workers from Wirral’s Hive Youth Zone are backing a campaign highlighting coercive control.
The #ItsNeverOk campaign, run by Wirral’s Domestic Abuse Alliance, is using the Valentine’s Day weekend to draw attention to coercive control. Largely social media based #ItsNeverOk will specifically be targeting young people in Wirral aged 14-21 highlighting the subtle nature of controlling behaviour.
The online campaign, which uses eye-catching visuals and social media icons, directs its audience to the alliance’s dedicated domestic abuse website: itsneverokwirral.org. It will run from 14 - 17 February to cover the ‘romantic’ weekend via Wirral Council's and The Hive's Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter accounts.
Speaking of the campaign, Cllr Paul Stuart, Chair of Wirral Domestic Abuse Alliance said: “We have been running the #ItsNeverOk campaign since 2018 focusing on various issues around domestic abuse. Over the Valentine’s Day weekend we wanted to raise awareness of coercive control to young people in Wirral.”
The spotlight on coercive control comes after figures from Merseyside Police showed that recorded rates of coercive and controlling behaviour in the borough rose from just 10 reports in 2016 to 106 in 2018 – which is a rise of over 1000%.
While authorities put the rise down to increased reporting rates and victim awareness of new laws around coercive control, which came into being in 2015, the domestic abuse alliance believes that more people need to be aware of their rights when it comes to coercion and control – especially young people.
Rachel Markey is a Youth Worker at the Hive. She works with young people from all backgrounds and has led projects about confidence and self-esteem, body image and social media and, of course, healthy relationships.
Speaking of the campaign, Rachel said: “The #ItsNeverOk campaign is in line with the values we try to foster here at the Hive. We’re not about spoon-feeding to our young people - they’re too headstrong for that! But we do understand that growing up and building relationships is different for young people today than it was, even 10 years ago.”
Last year Rachel ran a course called ‘Enduring Love’ which looked specifically at the issues that young people face in navigating relationships in a largely digital world.
“Social media, whatsapp, instant messaging – it’s everywhere and it’s all the time. We think the campaign may be quite eye-opening for many young people, and adults too. It’s showing us all that, just because someone claims to ‘love’ you, it doesn’t give them the right to control or monitor you.”
Whilst sharing the campaign on their social media channels the Hive, which provides sports/leisure facilities and holistic support to more than 3,500 members across Wirral, will also be running a dedicated ‘All you need is (healthy) Love’ session in their Re-Invent Salon, on 14th February, tackling issues around unhealthy relationships for young people.
Cllr Stuart, cabinet member for Law and Order also commented: “Coercive and controlling behaviours have existed for years, but the laws making them illegal only came into effect a number of years ago. Our domestic abuse partners and I want to make residents aware of the laws around coercive control as well as where they can access support.”
“It’s great to have The Hive on board enabling us to share these messages across all age groups.”
The ‘All you need is (healthy) Love’ drop-in is open to Hive senior members age 13 – 19 as part of their usual session on 14th February 2019. To attend and become a member of The Hive, sign-up online at the Hive's website or their reception.
- If you've been the victim of domestic abuse, or are concerned for someone who is, you can visit itsneverokwirral.org for information about the local resources and services available.
- In an emergency, if you’re concerned for your own or someone else’s immediate wellbeing, always dial 999. In non-emergency cases and for general advice, please call 101.
- Follow @wirralcouncil’s #ItsNeverOk campaign on social media for myth-busting content around domestic abuse.
What exactly is coercive and controlling behaviour?
Controlling behaviour is a range of acts performed by the abuser and designed to make their victim subordinate and/or dependent. These acts include but are not limited to:
• isolating the victim from sources of support
• exploiting the victim's resources and capacities for personal gain
• depriving the victim of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape
• regulating the victim's everyday behaviour
Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used by the abuser to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.