Education Interference – What is it?

School is a formative time for young people. There’s the educational side of it – learning new skills, finding extracurriculars you care about, and gaining an idea of what is important to you. There’s also the social side of things – school is where we meet many of our friends, learn how to interact with others who may be different from us, and experience relationships for the first time. Unfortunately, not all relationships teens and young adults experience are healthy. So, what happens when unhealthy or abusive relationships and school collide? A specific form of financial abuse known as education interference or sabotage.

What is Education Interference?

Education interference or sabotage is when one partner pressures, bullies, or coerces the other to do things that negatively impact their current or future education. The abusive partner pressures their partner to prioritize the relationship above everything else. This includes school. Education interference or sabotage can look like:

  • Spending less time studying and more time with their romantic partners.
  • Being pressured to take the same classes or participate in the same activities (even if you don’t really want to).
  • Skipping class or school because their partner wanted them to.
  • Quitting an extracurricular activity or club because of their partner.
  • Changing your post-graduation plans because of what your partner wants.

Different types of abuse can be used to interfere with someone’s education. Someone could use emotional abuse to make their partner feel guilty about focusing on class or extracurriculars. They could also convince them that school isn’t as important as their relationship. An abusive partner could physically restrain their partner from going to school. Experiencing physical violence could leave bruises or marks that they don’t want friends or teachers to see.

A controlling partner could constantly text their partner during class and demand a response (a common form of digital abuse). This could lead to a lack of focus in class or being ejected for being on their phone. An abusive partner might even say that they don’t need school or an education because they will support them financially. This could be a more insidious form of financial abuse that is harder for friends and family to see.

What is the Impact of Education Interference?

Education sabotage can negatively impact a student’s current education in many ways. It can cause multiple absences from class, lead to bad grades in those classes, or cause someone to retake a class or attend summer school. Their partner could pressure them to take the same classes instead of the ones they are interested in or passionate about.  A controlling partner might also pressure them to quit an extracurricular activity or club, which could lead to the loss of a community that cares about them. Failing grades or a lack of extracurricular activities could then impact the student’s future education plans as well.

Negatively impacted grades or attendance could prevent someone from learning the skills needed for their future. This could affect what colleges or trade schools they can attend or impact any scholarships they might receive. And if someone’s partner pressures them or coerces them into changing their post-graduation plans, they may end up doing something they are not passionate about or not even follow through with their plans. This could also lead to a situation where they rely more and more on their partner, who may escalate the abuse.

You Are Not Alone.

Sadly, this is an issue that many teens and young people don’t recognize as abuse In fact, many of the adults in their lives don’t recognize it either. A recent study by Futures Without Violence surveyed over 2,800 students on their experiences with economic abuse, including education interference. In that study, less than half of the students surveyed thought that economic abuse is dating abuse. However, 68% of students responded that they had experienced some form of control or interference with their education. This is abuse, and it’s important that everyone can recognize the signs.

If any of the above sounds familiar, you may be experiencing education interference. It can be hard to know what to do in these situations, so our advocates are here 24/7 through call, chat, or text. They can help you better understand what is happening and explore what steps you can take to take care of yourself.