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Abusive relationships

Every relationship is different - but you should always feel safe, loved and respected.

You shouldn’t feel scared, intimidated or controlled by someone who says they love you. If you feel that way, it could mean you are in an abusive relationship and need to seek support.

Types of abuse

Abuse in a relationship can happen in lots of different ways and in different situations. People of any gender can abuse their partners in a relationship. You don’t even need to be an ‘official’ couple for a relationship to be abusive.

Abuse can be:

  • Emotional: restricting your freedom; controlling your behaviour; saying horrible things to you; humiliating you and putting you down; isolating you from your friends.
  • Physical: including punching, kicking, hitting, slapping or pushing you around. Hurting you physically in any way.
  • Sexual: forcing you or putting you under pressure to do sexual acts that you don’t want to do.

Sometimes, what feels like normal behaviour can actually be unacceptable and abusive.

Any form of abuse is never ok and it is never your fault. You always have the right to get help.

This film from Disrepect NoBody explains what abusive behaviour can look like.

Disrespect NoBody

5 signs of an abusive relationship

  1. Your partner is extremely jealous when you talk to other people, including your friends. They are even jealous of positive things in your life, like success at school.
  2. Your partner tries to pressure you in to doing things you don’t want to do, like having sex. They tell you that if you really loved them, you would do what they tell you to.
  3. Your partner tries to monitor and control you, perhaps by reading your messages, telling you what you can wear, and who you can spend time with.
  4. Your partner hits you or threatens to self-harm to try to make you do things.
  5. Your partner gets angry when you want to do things without them.

5 things you might feel if you're in an abusive relationship

  1. Feeling unsafe or frightened. Trust your instincts if someone is making you feel  If someone makes you feel unsafe, pressured or frightened, trust your instincts and get help.
  2. Feeling like you can’t do anything right. Do you feel like you’re always tiptoeing around your partner? Are you worried how they will react to anything you do?
  3. Feeling like you have to change your behaviour. Do you feel like you have to change what you do and who you see to keep your partner happy? This might be a sign that they’re trying to control you.
  4. Feeling pressured to do things you don’t want to do. Do you feel like you can’t say no to them? If someone really cares about you they won’t put any pressure on you.
  5. Feeling bad about yourself. All relationships have their ups and downs but do you generally you feel worse when you’re with your partner? Healthy relationships have a positive impact on our lives.

Feeling like you still love them

Even if you recognise that you are in an abusive relationship, you might still have very strong feelings for your partner and may even love them. Someone that truly loves and cares about you would not subject you to any form of abuse. Remember that you deserve to be in a healthy relationship and you shouldn’t have to live with abuse because you love someone.

Worried that you're in an abusive relationship?

Trust yourself to know when something is wrong. It might feel like you’re alone but you’re not. You deserve to be safe and there are lots of people that can help you to end that relationship.

  • Talk to an adult you trust. Speak to an adult you trust, such as a family member, teacher or youth worker, about what’s happening to you and how you feel. They will be able to support and help you.
  • Get professional help. There are lots of organisations that support young people who are experiencing abuse in relationships. Find out more about support services.
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If you are under 18, report online sexual abuse to one of our Child Protection Advisors at the CEOP Safety Centre.

Report now

If you're over 18, call 101 to speak to your local police. 

In an emergency

If you're ever in immediate harm or danger: 

  • Call the police on 999 straight away
  • Tell an adult you trust who will be able to support you through a difficult time

Talk to someone

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Free, confidential support online and over the phone for young people under 19.

Call 0800 1111

The Mix logo

The Mix is a charity that provides free information and support for under 25s.

Use their crisis messenger by texting THEMIX to 85258.

See all help

Healthy relationships


Support services


Information on places you can go for help if you need it.