Abusive Relationships

What to do if you are in an abusive relationship

Advice and information with further support

What is domestic violence and abuse?

It is never easy to define what constitutes being in an abusive relationship and for some, the signs that your relationship is abusive can be difficult to spot. The Government definition of abuse is:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass, but is not limited to, the following types of abuse: psychological; physical; sexual; financial or emotional.

Controlling behaviour is: a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is: an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

This definition, which is not a legal definition, includes so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, and is clear that victims are not confined to one gender or ethnic group.”

Is your relationship abusive?

If you are reading this advice article, you may already be questioning whether your relationship is healthy or abusive. You can ask yourself some questions to determine this:

  • Does your partner constantly criticise your appearance, your behaviour or how you act?

  • Do you feel your partner makes fun of you in public and humiliates you regularly?

  • Does your partner call you horrible names and is verbally abusive towards you?

  • Are you freely able to spend time and communicate with friends and family members?

  • Are you anxious about going out without your partner because they will get upset with you?

  • Do you find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behaviour to others?

  • If you have children, have you ever told them not to talk to others about what happens at home?

  • Has your partner ever threatened suicide or made threats if you leave?

  • Has your partner told you that if you leave you cannot take the children?

  • Has your partner forced to you have sex, watch porn or do other acts that you have not consented to?

  • Are you afraid to say no to sex?

  • Do you regularly get accused of flirting with others or accused of having relationships with others?

  • Do you feel able to work or does your partner object to you working?

  • Has your partner ever hurt you physically or thrown things?

  • Do you feel nervous or afraid for your or your children’s safety when your partner becomes angry?

  • Does your partner text you non-stop when you are not with them?

  • Do you feel able to challenge your partner without feeling scared or anxious?

  • Does the term ‘walking on egg shells’ relate to you within your relationship?

If you have answered yes to the any of these questions above, then it may be time to start seeking help and further support to get yourself safe and away from an abusive relationship.

Types of abuse

There are many types of abusive behaviour and often what some may describe as a difficult trait in their partners is in actual fact domestic abuse. The following types of abuse are not exhaustive and can contain a lot more examples.

Physical – Punching, pushing, kicking, slapping, biting, scratching, burns, restraining, head butting, choking and other forms of abuse that cause physical harm.

Psychological – Emotional blackmail including threats of suicide if partner leaves, exercising control over a partner, possessive behaviour, constant criticism, making partner feel degraded, told they are ugly, negative comments on appearance, continually criticising partner’s parenting skills, demands for things that are not achievable so to use this as an excuse to be abusive and using fear and scare tactics to get what they want from you.

Emotional – Not allowing partner to socialise or go out without them including appointments, screening contacts via phone or face to face, putting friends and family off from visiting, withdrawing access to phones, locking partner in home, refusing to help with chores around the home, causing partner to have disturbed sleep, refusing to help with children, telling partner they are constantly useless, taking away self-esteem and confidence, sharing partner’s private and personal information with others, calling a partner weak, putting you down in front of others and making promises not to hurt you again but still continues to do so.

Financial – Controls incoming wages or benefits, asks for receipts for all purchases to keep check on partner, stopping partner from working, controlling bank accounts, giving partner limited funds as a way of controlling them, asking partner to prove their love by buying gifts beyond means, taking out loans and putting partner in debt, not paying bills and threats to stop money if partner leaves them.

Sexual– Taking inappropriate images without consent,  humiliation through sexual acts, forcing partner to do sexual acts, demanding sex and gets upset or angry when refused, being aggressive in a sexual manner, recording inappropriate videos or audio without consent, forcing a partner to sleep with others, controlling behaviour on how partner dresses, forced to watch porn, forced into prostitution, rape and sexual assault and not allowed to use any contraception. 

Harassment and stalking – Following you and checking up on you, gives you no privacy, taking control of your phone, social media and computer, not allowing you to go anywhere alone or talking to anyone, reading your messages or pretending to be you on your online accounts and/or forcing you to engage in online sexual activity.



How to relax no matter who you are

Anger is a very strong emotion and unfortunately it can be a very destructive one. Although getting angry is a fact of life, it’s when it turns to rage is where the real problems happen. When people lose control and get into a rage they not only damage themselves but other people as well.

So what happens to our bodies when we get annoyed and frustrated? Why do we lose control? When we perceive fear, our body moves into a ‘fight or flight mode’ Even if we really are not in danger our body still reacts. All of a sudden our body is ready for ACTION! During this stage we don’t stop to think what is happening our bodies, we are too wound up with the event that is happening around us. The main physiological change that happens is the change in our breathing. Practicing and learning healthy breathing techniques will be of great benefit to the individual at this time.

When we are uptight we have a tendency to shallow breathe and to breath irregularly. Unfortunately when this happens oxygen finds it difficult to get into our blood system. It is important when we breath that enough oxygen is inhaled in order to purify our blood from toxic and poisonous waste. If we do not get enough oxygen it can cause us to feel tired and anxious. The best way of doing this is to practice breathing techniques.

Some people try these exercises and after a minute or so think it’s not working and give up. You need to set aside at least 15 minutes at a time to get any benefit from it.

  • Sit on a chair with you hands on your lap.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose on a slow count of three
  • Push stomach out as you breathe in.
  • Breathe out through your mouth on a count of six
  • As you breath out, drop you shoulders.

Repeat three or four times. You will soon begin to feel your body becoming more rested and relaxed. This technique will help to reduce muscle tension and manage the effects of the ‘fight or flight’ mode. By doing this exercise regularly, it will soon become a habit and will help to deal with life’s daily challenges.
Although these breathing techniques can be very helpful to reduce stress, it must be stated that it is important to go and see a qualified health professional if symptoms persist.