Knowing in 2019 the government required schools to embrace a deeper look at RSE within PSHE education, I wrote a course called BEAUTY OR THE BEAST. It fits very well into the requirements and was trialled in schools in Hertfordshire.

The course title and content ask “are you friendly with a real diamond or someone causing harm “this is not about gender, sexuality, transgender, race, culture, religion, it is about living a good life without unrequired emotional pain. A loving friendship / relationship should not hurt, occasionally maybe, but if it is most of the time, then it’s not the right fit for you.

Healthy situations should fit like cosy slippers or shoes. If they pinch you will always suffer corns and blisters !

Our evaluations showed young people felt their PSHE education was too focused on healthy relationships. If a youngster is living in a domestic abuse situation the toxicity becomes normal and is the most repeated abuse later in life. Contrary to this, if a child lives in a happy balanced home environment, how do can they compare a toxic one?

In addition, we experienced teachers asking for advice regarding their personal lives

Following the course, we received many disclosures of teens experiencing issues, also those who were alerted and aware of peers who they could support.  We also explain anyone who is a domestic abuser needs help, it is not just the result of a and day at the office.

Fundamentally there are deep seated issues, many of which go back to their own childhood trauma. However, these days there are plenty of avenues to explore for help

What is concerning is the lack of knowledge they have regarding coercive control. Even friendships can be controlling and jealous. Identifying the component parts of an unhealthy situation is ESSENTIAL in going forward. How to identify a narcissist is crucial, watch them turn their charismatic charm against you in a heartbeat!

When young  it is easy to confuse possessiveness and jealousy ,with caring and being protective , but which is it?

RESILIENCE – is vital but what is it? it is the ability to survive and thrive in any hostile environment wherever and whoever that may be. Some people have inbuilt natural resilience, and some do not, but resilience can, and should, be taught in schools and early parenting classes. It is a necessary life skill.

During lockdowns is a great opportunity giving personal space to review, who is in your life and should they be?


Negative behaviours come from negative roots and can manifest even in Infant school. Ask yourself why is that child controlling and a bully, why is that child overly sexualised, why is that child displaying irrational anger; why is that child verbally offensive, why is that child lacking empathy? having asked the question what will you do if you dislike the answers?

Those who lack the necessary courage to dig down deep for answers and to support, should maybe change their job if involved with children.

1 in 10 girls and 1 in 11 boys experience relationship abuse

It is not unusual to be fearful of ending the friendship due to the perceived backlash


Coercive control is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. This controlling behaviour is designed to make a person dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence and regulating their everyday behaviour. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW

Gaslighting named after a 1944 film called GASLIGHT, means to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into doubting their own sanity denying everything they said or did. Typical remarks are you’re crazy that never happened, You’re so sensitive; you’re over reacting, you must be confused again, that’s not right you’re remembering things wrong; I never said that; just calm down; what are you talking about. In the end, and it’s a slow burn, you are nothing more than a puppet

Narcissism many abusers are narcissistic, they are needy, and self-absorbed and insecure which they turn onto their target. Here are some signs:

Lack of empathy

Lack of responsibility or accountability as they can never be wrong, blaming and deflecting

Superior and entitled

Exaggerated need for validation and attention – it is all about THEM

Seeks perfection

Overt need for power and control

Lacks boundaries and invades your privacy – poking into your emails and text messages

Fear of rejection

Anxiety and deeply repressed shame

Unable to show inner vulnerability.  Keeping their vulnerabilities hidden is essential to the narcissist’s pretend self-esteem or false self

Inability to work as a team

So in summary are you with someone who always make you feel you are wrong, someone who easily sulks and keeps it up for days, someone who uses aggressive finger pointing, pushes and shoves a tad too hard? possessive and jealous?

What should you do? – discuss it with the person and watch the reaction.  Leaving it in the hope things will settle down is giving a message “you are OK with it” and in reality things just become worse, so you feel trapped . If they refuse to hear what you are saying then walk away – amputate them from your life rather than drag you down.

Listen to your friends, they may notice something and raise it with you, which you may have denied!

As an animal lover I leave you with these thoughts. Animals teach us unconditional love, loyalty, friendship, and tolerance

“Love of animals is a universal impulse, a common ground on which all of us may meet. By loving and understanding animals, perhaps we humans will come to understand each other “ by Louis J Camuti