Relationship abuse (sometimes referred to as domestic violence) can be any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members. This includes so-called ‘honour’-based violence and forced marriage. 
 
Relationship abuse can happen to anyone or any gender. It is never ok and you don’t have to put up with it. If you are being abused, it is not your fault and you are not alone. 
 
There are different kinds of abuse, but it's always about having power and control over the other person. It is useful to recognise the signs of relationship abuse and the below questions might help you with this. 
 
Emotional abuse:
Does the person 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 family and friends?
  • stop you going to university 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 essential things?
 
Psychological abuse:
Does the person ever: 
  • call you names?
  • shout or swear at you?
  • ignore or isolate you?
  • exclude you from meaningful events or activities?
  • threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • destroy things that belong to you?
  • threaten to kill themselves if you don't do what they want?
  • read your emails, texts or letters?
 
Physical abuse:
The person abusing you may hurt you in a number of ways. 
Does the person ever: 
  • slap, hit or punch you?
  • push or shove you?
  • bite or kick you?
  • burn you?
  • choke you or hold you down?
  • throw things?
 
Financial abuse:
Does the person ever: 
  • control how money is spent?
  • give you an “allowance”?
  • deny you direct access to bank accounts, loans or grants?
  • forbid you from working/studying?
  • run up large debts on joint accounts without your permission or take actions that lead to you having bad credit?
  • force you to be involved in fraudulent activity?
  • spend money on themselves but not allow you to do the same?
  • give you presents or pay for things and expect something in return?
 
Controlling and coercive behaviour:
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, frighten, isolate or create dependence. 
 
Sexual abuse:
There are links and overlap between relationship abuse and the continuum of sexual violence. 
Does the person 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 (including with other people)?
  • If someone has sex with you when you don't want to, this is rape, even if you are in a relationship.
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