Year 10 students from Broulee's Carroll College have reflected on Eurobodalla Shire domestic violence program, Love Bites.
For Ryan Hall, domestic violence was often talked about in terms of physical assault, but the program taught him about the prominence of other forms like financial and emotional abuse.
"I think the physical side of thing is more what we hear about," he said.
He said financial abuse usually involved a power imbalance, where someone might withhold finances from the other.
"It's not going to be good for self-worth," he said.
He was proud to see his peers listen and reflect on the program.
"It was really good to see the maturity," he said. "From people who wouldn't normally sit and listen, to see them realise how serious the problem was and really take in the information, was good."
A sense of self-worth resonated for another student, Gemma Mass.
"It made me realise everyone has a sense of worth, that we all deserve respect no matter what," she said. "Even if I don't feel like I've got that, there are many ways I can reach out."
Another student, Damia O'Loughlin, was surprised how quickly early-warning signs could turn into dangerous situations.
"Things like taking power in relationships, an imbalance in opinion or being slightly more aggressive can lead to serious consequences," she said.
The program urged students to look out for each other. For Damia, she would make sure to look out for early-warning signs to protect herself and her friends.
Student Thomas Gardner also re-evaluated the way he treated others.
"It's not just intimate (relationships)," he said. "It's important to make sure everyone feels good, that you're not a reason they're feeling down. You're trying to be one of the positive things in their life."
Bonnie Brewer said she took on tips that could help in her own relationships. She said prioritising a healthy wellbeing and noticing the signs of bad relationships were important.
Sarah Penberthy also learnt about the early-warning signs: "You've got to learn to watch out for the red flags".
Domestic violence education must happen early in life, when relationships are forming, police and welfare workers say.
Eurobodalla Shire Domestic Violence Committee spokesperson Sam Monck said the Love Bites program gave students an opportunity to question their attitudes and beliefs about domestic violence when relationships and friendships were beginning in high school.
"It also makes them aware of red flags in relationships and early signs," she said.
"It gives them avenues to get support as well. Not a lot of them are aware of services that are in the community."
Domestic Violence Officer Sen Const Jo Flood said control was a common denominator in most domestic violence cases, and was often the basis of unhealthy relationships.
She said control could form in any part of life.
"It can be financial, controlling people's friendships or relationships with other people so it isolates them, controlling where they go, what they do, what they wear, all sorts of things," she said.
Carroll College assistant principal Nathan Mansfield said it was important for students to hear about power imbalances.
"The program works really well with our pastoral care program, making kids aware of what an unhealthy relationship looks like, where to go to for help and what's acceptable and not acceptable in relationships," he said. "Domestic violence doesn't discriminate on gender, race, nationality, religion."
The Love Bites program is offered in a number of Eurobodalla Shire schools.