Signs to spot abuse in a relationship

Some people think that relationship abuse is just about violence, or physically forcing somebody to do something they don’t want to – but that isn’t true. Abuse can be emotional and verbal, and could escalate to physical or sexual abuse. All types are serious and they’re never OK.

What is emotional abuse?

Some people use emotional abuse to control people. These signs can be more difficult to spot, but could include:

  • Getting angry when you want to spend time with your friends
  • Isolating you from friends and family
  • Threatening to spread rumours about you
  • Saying things like “If you loved me you would…”
  • Putting you down all the time, using names like ‘frigid’ or ‘slut’ to control what you do, humiliate you and destroy your self-esteem
  • Trying to control your life (telling you how to dress, who you hang out with and what you say)
  • Threatening to harm you or to self–harm if you leave them
  • Demanding to know where you are all the time
  • Monitoring your calls and emails, threatening you if you don’t respond instantly
  • Getting really angry, really quickly
  • Using force during an argument
  • Blaming others for their problems or feelings
  • Being verbally abusive
  • Using threatening behaviour towards others
  • Pressuring you to send them nude pictures

If someone is lesbian, gay, bi or transgender and not ‘out’, their partner might threaten to ‘out’ them if they don’t do what they want.

What is physical abuse?

Some people use violence to force someone to do something or threaten to use it to control them. It could include:

  • Hitting
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Slapping
  • Pushing someone against a wall and refusing to let them go
  • Holding somebody down

What is sexual abuse?

Forcing someone to do any sexual acts they don’t want to is rape or sexual assault.  This kind of abuse can happen in relationships.

If you recognise any of the signs of abuse in your own relationship, you can get help here.