Abuse in a relationship is when you try to control someone, hurt them or force them to do things they don’t want to.

This can be done in many different ways and isn’t always overt or obvious.

Abusive behaviour can be:

  • violent (hitting, kicking, slapping)
  • emotional (humiliating and putting you down)
  • sexual (forcing you to do sexual acts you don't want to)
  • financial (controlling money, taking out loans in the partner’s name)

Abuse may start with name calling but often escalates over time into physical violence.

  • Are you jealous? Do you constantly need to know where your partner is?
  • Does it make you angry when they want to spend time with friends or family?
  • Do you have strong opinions about what they wear or who they see?
  • Do you call them names and put them down?
  • Have you ever threatened to hurt yourself if they say they want to leave the relationship?
  • Do you text them excessively?
  • Do you monitor their calls and emails?
  • Does drinking or drug use trigger any negative behaviour towards them?
  • Do you ever use force in an argument – including using your physical presence to intimidate?
  • Do you think they are responsible or your problems or feelings?
  • Do you force them to do anything they don’t want to?

If you display any of these behaviours you are causing pain to the people you love.

Choose to stop.


If you're worried about your behaviour you can contact Respect's confidential helpline offering advice, which offers information and support to help you stop being violent and abusive to your partner. Call freephone 0808 802 4040 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.