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Abuse in relationships

Abuse in a relationship can take many forms and people of any gender, and any age, can be abusive partners or victims of abuse. 

You can be affected by abuse at any age, and people from all backgrounds and walks of life can be both abusers and victims of abuse. Sometimes abuse can be invisible to people outside a relationship, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Abuse is always wrong, and never the fault of the person who is being abused. A person who commits abuse always has a choice, and if they choose to be abusive, it’s no-one else’s fault but the person who is committing the abuse.

It's sometimes really tempting to make excuses or misinterpret violence, possessiveness, or anger as an expression of love. But, even if you believe that the person hurting you loves you, it is not healthy or acceptable.

People often try to change their own behaviour so that their partner will stop being abusive, but the reality is, only they can stop being abusive. It is never your fault or something you have done that prompts abuse – it is the choice of your partner. 

Abusive people hardly ever change their behaviour, however much they promise to. Abuse almost never stops by itself, it just gets worse over time. If you are in a situation where someone is hurting you, even if it’s someone you love, it’s not your fault and seeking help and advice is the best option.

It's time to get help if your partner is acting in any of these ways:

  • Gets angry when you don't drop everything for them
  • Criticises the way you look or dress, and says you'll never be able to find anyone else who would want you
  • Keeps you from seeing friends and family, or from talking to anyone else
  • Wants you to quit an activity, even though you love it
  • Raises a hand when angry, like they are about to hit you – or actually hits you
  • Takes your money or tries to control what you spend your own money on
  • Forces you to go further sexually than you want to
  • Says that they will hurt or kill themselves if you leave or tell anyone what has been happening
  • Threatens to hurt someone you care about if you do not act or do something they want

If you can think of any way in which your partner is trying to control you, make you feel bad about yourself, isolate you from the rest of your world, or harm you physically or sexually, then it's really important to get help. 

Visit our section on abuse which describes the different types of abuse, getting help and safety planning. You can also contact any of the organisations below.

Finally, if you're worried someone might see you have been on this page, find out how to cover your tracks online.

Page last reviewed: February 2016
Next review due: February 2017