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Violent Teen Relationships Set Stage for Abuse in Adult Life

Researchers are increasingly worried about domestic violence in teenage relationships. The girls’ house “Tyttöjen Talo”, located in Helsinki's Kallio district, offers a safe environment and guidance for young women.

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Although adult support has been shown to help, there is still a great shortage of appropriate guidance for young women suffering from violence. According to therapist Kristiina Hannila, who works at "Tyttöjen Talo", many of the young women who come to see her have experienced sexual trauma, often in a relationship with a significantly older man.

A new British study has found violence to be alarmingly common in young women's relationships. One third of the women studied reported sexual abuse, while a quarter said they had experienced physical violence in a relationship. This is a problem in Finland too.

Christine Barter, a researcher at Bristol University, says many girls who experience such trauma say it has had a very serious impact on their welfare.

“They felt scared, they felt frightened. Also, they felt depressed. It makes it difficult for them to concentrate on other areas of their life."

Studies suggest that relationship violence experienced in teenage years puts girls at risk to be in abusive situations when they're adults.

In Hannila's experience, talking openly to a confidential listener helps young women to deal with their problems. Indeed, adult guidance can be crucial, as teenagers may find it hard to distinguish normal relationship dynamics from controlling and violent behavior.

Of course, it can be hard to talk about sexuality and violence, as girls are afraid of being stigmatised. Places like “Tyttöjen talo”, where girls can talk freely in an understanding, supportive environment, can play an important role.

Sources: YLE

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