#loverespect- Why This Project Matters

“We believe love shouldn’t feel bad, and that everyone has a right to be safe and happy” 

 

This is the slogan of Women’s Aid’s new project, ‘#loverespect’. Borne out of a need for a clearer way of disseminating information on healthy relationships to a slightly younger demographic of audience than Women’s Aid might usually be associated with, the project aims to educate young adults about how to navigate relationships in the modern world. Attending a recent event run by Bristol SU’s Women’s Network and Women’s Aid really highlighted to me the importance of projects like this; we know that there is an issue with a lack of comprehensive education in our schools about healthy (as well as unhealthy) relationships, yet waiting for the system to change simply isn’t an option. This is what makes the work of charities such as Women’s Aid so invaluable- they step into the gap created when the State cannot, or will not, react quickly enough to growing social issues.  

 

Looking at the website of #loverespect, it is a world away from the Women’s Aid national website. Instead of being full of information on the charity, recent news stories about abusive relationships and calls for donations, the #loverespect website is full of pictures, and only contains short, easy-to-read pieces of information and advice. This is not to say that the general Women’s Aid website is bad- but for a young adult, it can be more than a little overwhelming. The presentation of #loverespect, from its website to its name, fits with the social media era that the girls- and guys- who are reading this information live in. It’s a small surface detail, but this appearance has two crucial purposes. Firstly, to properly educate this younger audience, the site needs to be easy to follow and engaging specifically in the eyes of the younger generation. Secondly, by presenting the information in a more simplistic manner- for example, the guidance on what a healthy relationship is/ is not is presented through a series of Buzzfeed-style quiz questions- the topic is normalised, instead of being seen as something adult and scary. Abuse can occur at all ages, so it is vital that the information on how to spot the signs- and what to do about them- is accessible to all.  

 

A final note is to mention the brand ambassador of the project. Award-winning author Holly Bourne is a perfect choice, not just because of her ability to write about healthy relationships in a way relatable- and aimed at- teenagers, but also because of her background in working as an online relationship advisor for a relationships charity. It is this work which inspired her most recent book, ‘All The Places I’ve Cried In Public’, which has themes centred around abuse within ‘normal’ young relationships, and how you often don’t spot the signs until you look back. It is books like this which will get young people talking about the topic, in a non-judgemental and educated way. These are the sort of conversations we want to be happening in our schools, not misinformed, whispered chats about how so-and-so’s boyfriend isn’t abusive, he’s just ‘misunderstood’ and how he’s not controlling, he’s just ‘so romantic’. Encouraging a healthier and more educated dialogue on these issues won’t solve the problem of abusive relationships, but it will bring them out into the open, into a space where victims feel comfortable enough to talk, and potential victims learn to see the signs before it is too late. #loverespect is a much-needed step in creating this safe environment for younger girls, and should be celebrated.