Am I in an abusive relationship?
If you feel that you're scared, alone, bullied or forced to do things you don’t want to do by your girlfriend or boyfriend, this is relationship abuse.
A healthy relationship should make you feel happy – not controlled, trapped, threatened or hurt.
If you’re feeling like this, it’s important that you don’t blame yourself. No one should be abused in a relationship, and this situation isn’t your fault.
Spotting abusive behaviours in relationships
Sometimes it can be difficult to recognise that you’re in an abusive relationship. Even if you do realise that things are wrong, you may think that you are partly to blame for what is happening. You need to remember that you haven’t done anything wrong, and that there are people who can help you to stay safe and end the abuse.
Some of the things that an abusive partner in a relationship may do:
- They make threats and do things just to scare me.
- Puts me down just to make me feel bad when we’re alone or around friends.
- Makes me do things that I don’t want to do without listening to me.
- Makes me feel guilty if I don’t spend time with them.
- They don’t try to get on with my friends or family.
- Hits, slaps or pushes me (assault).
- Looks through my phone, social media or web browsing history.
- Wants to know where I am all the time.
- Cheats on me or accuses me of cheating on them.
- Steals from me (theft) or makes me buy them things.
- Makes me have sex when I don’t want to (rape).
- Makes me do sexual things that I don’t want to including sex crimes such as rape or sexual assault, or online sex crimes such as posting sexual photos of someone online.
What can I do?
If any of these things are happening to you, or you’re worried about a friend who is in a relationship where this is happening, there are things you can do to make sure you stay safe and end the abuse:
- Tell an adult you trust – this could include a teacher, a family member, your youth worker, social worker or support worker. It can be difficult to know how to have this conversation; we have some tips on asking for help.
- Lots of things that can happen in an abusive relationship – such as sexual assault or rape, assault and theft – are crimes, so think about reporting it to the police. If you're at immediate risk of getting hurt, call 999.
- Keep a record of things that happen (if it's safe to). Don’t keep this where the abusive person can find it.
- With a safe adult, you could develop a safety plan that would help you choose how best to keep yourself safe.
- Talk to your friends. A good friend will listen to you and may help you speak to an adult.
If you are worried about a friend, we have some tips on how you can start the conversation and get them the right help.
If you are worried about this happening at home, for example to a parent, this may be domestic violence.
Your questions answered about relationship abuse
They say they love me, is this still abuse?
If the person you are in a relationship with is upsetting, threatening or hurting you, this is relationship abuse. They may still say that they love you, but nobody has the right to do this to you. In a healthy relationship you should be treated with respect, your opinions valued, you should be encouraged to achieve and try hard, and be listened to when you talk about your feelings.
I’m a boy, can this happen to me?
Relationship abuse can happen to anyone – this can be to boys or girls, men or women. It can also happen in relationships between boys and girls and in same sex (gay or lesbian) relationships.
I’m scared that they will hurt me if I leave?
Leaving a relationship can make your partner angry and may lead to them being more violent towards you. If you're planning to leave your partner, there are people who can help you do this as safely as possible. If you feel you are in immediate danger, ring the police on 999. All police officers are now trained in domestic abuse and relationship abuse and will help keep you safe.
I’m pregnant and scared for myself and my baby?
When you're in an abusive relationship and are pregnant you and your baby are at risk. It can feel overwhelming having to protect yourself and your baby. Your local children’s services have a duty to help keep you and your baby safe. Many young people are worried about talking to a social worker from childrens' services as they think this will mean that their baby is taken away. However, childrens' services will want to help keep you and your baby safe and together with the right support to help you. You can go to your local council offices and ask for help – think about taking a trusted adult with you to support you.
Who can help me?
You & Co – you can talk to one of our support workers on a one-to-one basis, and we can offer you help and support whether you decide to report a crime to police or not. We can give you advice on how crime can affect you and how to cope with it, what to do and what to expect if you decide to report a crime to police, and how to move on from being a victim. You can find out about support available near you on this website.
National Domestic Violence Helpline – this free phone 24-hour helpline for women provides information and advice if you are experiencing domestic violence yourself, or if you're worried about someone else. Call 0808 2000 247
This is ABUSE – this website provides more information on what relationship abuse is.
The Hide Out – this website helps children and young people understand more about domestic violence and what they can do.
The Mix – this website provides information and support for 16-25 year olds on a whole range of issues, including rape and sexual assault as well as safe sexual relationships. Get confidential help by telephone, email, text or webchat, for young people under 25; call 0808 808 4994.
Brook – Brook helps more than 275,000 young people every year to make positive and healthy lifestyle choices and to improve their personal and sexual health and emotional well-being. They offer a phone, text and webchat advisory service.
Think U Know – provides information for children and young people on sex, relationships and the internet.