Escape the Trap (Teenage Relationship Abuse Programme, TRAP) has been developed in acknowledgement of the rising numbers of young people identified as being vulnerable to teenage relationship abuse. The statistics on the prevalence of teenage relationship abuse and its’ impact on the wellbeing and mental health of young people who find themselves victims of such coercion and control, do not make for happy reading.
In developing Escape the Trap, I have drawn on my experience as a therapist, clinical supervisor and trainer in the arena of domestic and sexual violence and abuse, to put together a programme, which I believe is simple, straightforward and above all accessible, in any setting with young people, whether working with groups or one to one.
It is widely accepted that domestic & sexual violence and abuse is undoubtedly a gender issue, experienced disproportionately by females. Escape the Trap is designed to support young people – particularly teenage girls who are identified as vulnerable to teenage relationship abuse, to learn about the dynamics of power & control in relationships at a much earlier stage in their experience of intimate relationships. It is my hope that through Escape the Trap, young people will begin to explore gender inequalities in our society and how such inequality impacts and shapes our beliefs and behaviour.
Exploring gender issues throughout the programme will play a huge part in the learning and understanding of domestic & sexual violence and abuse and how society re-enforces a tolerance and acceptance of relationship abuse. This learning will apply equally to the societal expectations of males and females in same sex relationship and males being abused by their female partners. It is for this reason and in recognition of young people in same sex relationships, that I refer to those attending the Escape the Trap programme as ‘young people’ or ‘group members’ rather than ‘girls’ or ‘boys’, ‘females’ or ‘males’.
It is widely understood that female and male victims of domestic abuse do not necessarily want to have the same kinds of support services. Therefore, it is essential that we remember there is not a ‘one cap fits all’ approach to working with both female and male young people who are identified as vulnerable to teenage relationship abuse and that we might consider applying the learning mindful of the needs of the young people with whom we are working.