It can be hard to know when behaviour within a relationship has become abusive, but this list of questions taken from the UK government website is a good guideline:
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you might be in an abusive relationship.
Does your partner ever:
- belittle you, or put you down?
- blame you for the abuse or arguments?
- deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
- isolate you from your family and friends?
- stop you going to college or work?
- make unreasonable demands for your attention?
- accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
- tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
- control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other
Threats and intimidation
Does your partner ever:
- threaten to hurt or kill you?
- destroy things that belong to you?
- stand over you, invade your personal space?
- threaten to kill themselves or the children?
- read your emails, texts or letters?
- harass or follow you?
The person abusing you may hurt you in a number of ways: Does your partner ever:
- slap, hit or punch you?
- push or shove you?
- bite or kick you?
- burn you?
- choke you or hold you down?
- throw things?
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, whether they’re male or female: Does your partner ever:
- touch you in a way you don’t want to be touched?
- make unwanted sexual demands?
- hurt you during sex?
- pressure you to have unsafe sex – for example, not using a condom?
- pressure you to have sex?
If your partner has sex with you when you don’t want to, this is rape. Have you ever felt afraid of your partner?
Have you ever changed your behaviour because you’re afraid of what your partner might do?
What signs to look for
If you believe that you or someone else could be a victim of domestic abuse, there are signs that you can look out for including:
- being withdrawn, or being isolated from family and friends
- having bruises, burns or bite marks
- having finances controlled, or not being given enough to buy food or pay bills
- not being allowed to leave the house, or stopped from going to college or work
- having your internet or social media use monitored, or someone else reading your texts, emails or letters
- being repeatedly belittled, put down or told you are worthless
- being pressured into sex
- being told that abuse is your fault, or that you’re overreacting
If you are worried about a friend
If you are concerned that a friend is being abused, let her know that you have noticed that something seems wrong, but be careful not to push her to talk if she is not ready. Our instinct is often to step in and intervene, but this can dangerous for you and her. Knowing that you care and are there when she is ready talk is hugely important.
If you hear or see an assault or think your friend is in immediate danger, you should call the police on 999.
In an emergency you should call 999
If you are unable to speak on the phone, after 20 seconds the operator will put you through the silent solutions team who will ask you to press 55 to confirm it's not safe to speak. Then they will ask you a series of questions that that you can answer by pressing a number on your keypad.
If it's not an emergency...
If you're not in immediate danger, but you do need help or support, call the 24-hour, National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. You can chat online with someone from the charity Refuge or Women's Aid have a chat function.