Thank you Roskilde.
This is indeed a topic that is crucial to put focus on: Abusive relationships among the young.
The campaign Kærligt Talt is a wordplay that can be translated to something like: "said frankly but lovingly".
For the 16-24 year olds who are in a relationship, 7.4 % of the girls and 4.8 % of the boys have experienced some form of abuse by their partner.
(That's actually a drop from years back).
The area Mary visited today, Nørrebro, is an immigrant heavy area of Copenhagen and it is a sad fact that abuse within relationships among immigrants and their descendants is higher than average. As such the majority of women who seek refuge at shelters are now immigrants and descendants.
However, that's the women. Men and boys who are abused have few places to go. It is still not taken too seriously when a girl/women abuse a guy be that physically or psychologically. Another matter are gay relationships where abuse is also a problem, especially because the system really isn't geared to deal with a gay man being abused.
Why do young people abuse?
Well, some, albeit the minority have experienced abuse themselves or seen a parent being abused while growing up. So to them abuse is normal.
Others are simply immature and inexperienced and react basically like children, when confronted with the problems there are in a relationship and with the emotions involved.
And the person in the receiving end is inexperienced too and don't know how to react. Especially if the person has never experienced or seen abuse before.
In most cases it does not occur to the parents to sit down and explain the rules of a relationship to their children. Why explain the obvious? And surely the children learn from observing their parents? - Hopefully yes, but far from always.
Then there is insecurity. The abuser is insecure and abuse to hold on to the one he/she loves.
The abused is insecure and accept being abused in order to hold on to that person who cares for him/her.
But perhaps the most important reason for accepting abuse is shame. Perhaps even more so at a young age.
Most people fortunately realize that it's shameful to abuse, but to do something about is another matter. And here a strange co-operation form between the abuser and the abused: Let's keep this quiet.
Because it's even more shameful to be abused, and the longer the abuse takes place the more shameful it is.
Imagine a 24 year old woman who is attending university and doing well. Lives in a small flat with a nice guy, who earns well. Have a nice little home, go on vacation abroad every year. Picture perfect, right? Should she admit her life is not perfect? That the whole thing is just a facade? That she's weak? A failure?
Or the 18 year old who has moved in with her boyfriend and who would like to impress those around her with this fantastic relationship. What to do? Admit to all it was just an illusion?
Keep in mind that a person who breaks out from a long-time abusive relationship, has a battered and low self-esteem and while that person will get sympathy there are also incriminations: Why did you take it? - Why didn't you just walk out? - I really thought you were stronger. - Okay, to be honest, you really can be a bitch sometimes. and so on...
So what to do?
Putting down basic guidelines for what is acceptable in a relationship.
Offer advise to how to deal with problems.
Tell them again and again: You are not the only one.
And that's what the Mary Foundation is doing.
- To that I would like to add an advise someone gave me and Mrs. Muhler many years ago: Sometimes it's better to let your children overhear
what you want them to know, rather than telling
Children, especially when they are tweens, have very long ears! So it can be a good idea to "discuss between adults" what you want them to know when they are within earshot.
Say talking about how abuse is wrong, period! And what can be done about it, while little Lise is sitting in the other end of the room texting away - and her ears are picking up everything!
We've tried that a number of times and to our delight experienced a couple of times how one of our children have "casually" touched the subject a couple of days later. Then we took it from there.