Relationship abuse, sometimes referred to as domestic abuse or interpersonal violence, can be described as a course of behaviour from a current or previous partner that can include coercive control, psychological, financial, emotional and/or physical abuse. Sexual abuse also often occurs in these relationships. When the relationship ends, elements of abuse can continue and can include stalking; threats to harm; and digital abuse. 

Anyone can be a victim of relationship/intimate partner abuse.  Whilst predominately perpetrated by men and experienced by women, it can also affect men, women and non-binary people in any relationship, regardless of culture, religion, age or class. It can also be perpetrated by both current and/or previous partners within an intimate relationship. 

It can go on for a long time and often gets worse over time. It can be life threatening and many young people may not recognise that they are in an abusive relationship as the perpetrator may be very charming and convincing to others & blame the victim, telling them that they are somehow responsible for this abusive behaviour. 

Relationship abuse can be carried out by partners or ex partners. It can be: 
  • emotional or psychological – like threats, humiliation, manipulation, criticism and name-calling (including racial abuse), undermining your self-confidence, controlling what you do or who you speak to, stalking & monitoring your movements when out, telling you what to wear and where you can go, isolating you from your friends and family, threatening to or distributing intimate images and controlling/withdrawing your use of social media/mobile phone etc
  • physical – like hitting, pushing, punching, kicking, burning, making you eat/ drink/take other substances, harming your family/children/pets, use of weapons and acts of strangulation- or threats of 
  • sexual – such as rape or forcing you to engage in sexual acts and so called “rough sex” (including with others) , refusal or insistence to use birth control; forced abortion; abuse during pregnancy and deliberate passing on of STI’s
  • financial and educational  – like not letting you work/study, withholding/controlling money
  • forced marriage is also a form of gender based violence and may result in wider forms  domestic abuse for wider family members
Nobody should feel scared in their relationship, nor should you feel manipulated to stay in an unhealthy relationship- even if the other person threatens to harm themselves. It can be very confusing as abusers often show a lot of love and kindness and promise to change their behaviour. Remember you can seek help and support regardless of whether you are still in an abusive relationship or not. We understand it can feel very difficult and unsafe to leave such a relationship and you may wish to seek advice and help in order to increase your safety during this period. 


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