RAISING AWARENESS: Seventeen-year-old Fizah Iqbal has created a video which highlights the problems created by psychological abuse
RAISING AWARENESS: Seventeen-year-old Fizah Iqbal has created a video which highlights the problems created by psychological abuse

Teens pioneering production aims to reach out to a national audience

A sixth form student from Leeds has created a groundbreaking video which highlights the problem of psychological abuse.

Seventeen-year-old Fizah Iqbal, of Allerton Grange School, produced the thought-provoking production as a way of tackling one of society’s least discussed issues.

As part of her online blog, ‘think lifestyle, think me’, Fizah already plays an active role in raising awareness of topics close to her heart with her followers.

It was at the Women of the World (WOW) event, held in Bradford in November, that the talented teen noticed more could be done to shine the spotlight on psychological abuse specifically, especially amongst young people, after listening to a range of speakers sharing their own experiences.

Inspired by the talks, Fizah set out on her mission, approaching peers and teachers within school, asking them if they would be willing to support her campaign.

Currently, she has over 60 students and staff who have had their photograph taken with an abusive word taped over their mouths, calling on their own past experiences to take an active part in the campaign to stop the use of derogatory or abusive language.

After producing the campaign herself, Fizah is now working with a Leeds-based domestic violence charity – Behind Closed Doors – to raise the profile of the video, due to be released later this month, as part of the national campaign ‘16 Days of Activism’ which hopes to raise awareness of, and help stop, Domestic Violence.

GROUNDBREAKING: Over 60 students and staff starred in the campaign
GROUNDBREAKING: Over 60 students and staff starred in the campaign

Fizah had this to say on the concept behind the video: “I think psychological abuse is more widespread amongst young people than is currently thought, but I see it a lot and it’s become common place for people to accept their boyfriend or girlfriend having the PIN to their phone or checking their social media accounts.

“Things might start off as small but can escalate quickly and we need to re-educate young people on what is and is not acceptable so that they can go on to form healthy relationships.

“Things like Memes are all too readily shared on social media taking the ‘mickey’ out of being under the thumb for example, but they lead to real issues being downplayed and seen as a source of humour.

“I hope that my video reaches far and wide and if it helps just one young person recognise psychological abuse then I’ll be happy.”

In the 100-second film – edited by Fizah – students and teachers feature with the various insults they have heard.

Signs and symptoms of psychological abuse include name calling, yelling, insulting the person, threatening the person or threatening to take away something that is important to them, imitating or mocking the person, swearing at them and ignoring or isolating the person.

Allerton Grange Headteacher, Mr Mike Roper, said the video was something the whole school was in support of.

He added: “I have been blown away by the initiative and commitment shown by Fizah to give something back to others by creating and sharing this awareness video.

“Through forging links with a local community organisation there are a number of opportunities for everyone involved with the school to support Behind Closed Doors, Fizah and this campaign nationally.”

Following her innovative project, Behind Closed Doors has invited Fizah to become the first Young Person’s Ambassador for the charity.

She is working with the project team on how to develop the role and utilise funding which is hoping to be secured in order to work with local schools and colleges.

Louise Tyne, Director of Behind Closed Doors, said: “When Fizah first approached the team, we were amazed that she had taken it upon herself to produce this video and raise awareness of psychological abuse amongst young people.

“Domestic abuse can take many forms, coercive control and psychological abuse is subtle but can be as damaging as physical abuse. We are proud to support Fizah in her campaign; her enthusiasm and creativity is inspiring.

“Together, we can work to raise awareness and provide young people with the support and information they need, and help all young people to have happy and healthy relationships.”