Tech Vs Abuse

A co-designed digital platform to support young people in recognising abuse

At the beginning, he was really sweet and he cared about me. But about 4 months in, he pressured me into having sex. I didn’t want to say no because I was scared he’d get angry.

Teenager, responding anonymously to our survey


A person is most likely to experience domestic abuse in their first relationship and the majority of these happen during teenage years. Yet younger people are less likely to access support services than people of other ages. 

This exploratory one-year project set out to better understand how young people in the UK experience harmful behaviour within their romantic relationships and how we might engage them with support services.

Through community data gathering, we discovered that young people struggle to identify the line between healthy and coercive behaviours and that the term ‘domestic abuse’ has little relevance to their experiences.

Guided by a steering group of young people, we co-designed Draw the Line, an anonymous digital platform that enables teenagers to interact creatively with real relationship stories. Platform users draw a virtual line where they identify harmful behaviour and then get to see how other young people and domestic abuse professionals annotate the content. The platform also offers them a chance to speak about their own experiences by submitting their story.

On Our Radar has been working with community reports for nearly a decade, but this is one of our first opportunities to build a digital platform around stories in an interactive way and one that catalyses further voices to come forward.


We held a series of workshops and conducted a national survey to explore how teenagers viewed behaviours in relationships and who they trusted to go to for help. 

The survey invited teenagers to submit an anonymous short reflection about how abusive or toxic behaviours had impacted them. Reading through these gave us rich insight into how these harmful behaviours affect young people. 

We worked with a steering group of young people from across the UK to produce a concept for a digital platform that would help young people to identify abuse. Through online workshops and quick-fire check-ins via WhatsApp, our steering group were involved in all aspects of co-design, from co-developing the research survey to creating initial creative concepts, choosing the platform’s colour and branding, producing content and testing end-to-end functionality.

Together we decided to make the rich and honest testimonies of teenagers our central communication tool. To help gather additional stories for the platform, we used video and online workshops to train some of our steering group in micro-reporting methods and peer journalism.

The platform is being promoted as part of a digital campaign that will invite young people from around the UK to draw a line through harmful relationship behaviours.


We are working with SafeLives, supported by Comic Relief, Esmée Fairbairn and the Clothworkers’ Foundation.