One of the events on here for OUSA’s Women’s Week was an evening of talks about Safe and Unsafe relationships, including speakers from Women’s Refuge and Rape Crisis, as well as women who work in domestic interventions, and Lesley Elliot, mother of Sophie Elliot. Recently Lesley announced the formation of a foundation in Sophie’s name to educate high school girls about abusive relationships.
“We want to be the fence at the top of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff,” she told the Otago Daily Times.
Mrs Elliott will be joined as a trustee by three Dunedin-based people and Kristin Dunne-Powell, the former partner of television presenter Tony Veitch, who pleaded guilty to injuring her with reckless disregard for her safety.
I think this is great news; it’s been a while since I was in high school, but I don’t remember being taught much about the relationship side of relationships (as opposed to the sex side of them), and I think it is very important to discuss the variety of ways in which a relationship can be unhealthy, because people often imagine an unsafe relationship as being the stereotypical man-hits-woman type, when really it can be very complex and there are many types of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, financial.
My only comment would be that I hope something like this exists for high school boys in some form or another, or that there are plans (by someone) to create it. Because of the stereotype of an abusive relationship, there are many things a man can do in a relationship that he may not conceptualize as abuse (such as restricting his partner’s time with her friends, or not letting her be in control of her own money) that may not be healthy, and I think high school boys could benefit from discussion about what is ok and not ok in a relationship, and the many forms abuse can take. Also, educating young men may help them to spot signs of unhealthy relationships amongst friends and talk to them about it (shades of the latest “It’s Still Not Ok” campaign ad where a work colleague/friend confronts the male protagonist about his behaviour towards his son).