Abuse in relationships
Being in a relationship with someone you really like can be brilliant! It’s fun and makes you feel happy and loved. But if the person you’re with makes you feel scared, lonely, ashamed, upset or unhappy all or a lot of the time, or if they force you to do things you’re not comfortable with, it can make you miserable.
This is relationship abuse. You can be abused in a relationship in many different ways – physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally, or by someone trying to control you.
You need to get help if your boyfriend or girlfriend:
- calls you names, or tells you that you are ugly, or that no one else would want you
- gets angry if you don’t do what they want or drop everything for them
- tries to control what you wear, spend your money on or where you go
- tries to stop you seeing your friends or spending time with your family
- wants to check your phone or emails
- tries to make you give up something you like doing, like a hobby or going out
- hits you, or looks as if they are about to hit you
- forces you to go further sexually than you want to.
Visit Brook’s website to read more about the different types of abuse.
Read more on the Buzz about sexual abuse, grooming (below) and bullying.
Watch SignHealth’s video in British Sign Language (with subtitles) Expect Respect to see what good and bad relationships look like.
You can use the relationship checklist on This is Abuse to see if your partner treats you with the respect you deserve.
If someone forces you to have sex or take part in any sexual activity when you don’t want to, this is rape or sexual assault. It doesn’t matter if that person is your boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s still wrong.
Watch Emma Blackery’s video (with subtitles) from Rise Above on sexual consent and relationships.
I think I’m in an abusive relationship, what do I do?
It can be hard to talk about abuse and hard to know what to do to get out of the situation.
- Tell someone. You might feel worried about what will happen to you if you speak out or that you won’t be believed. But there are people who can help. Tell a family member, teacher, friend or youth worker, or contact Childline. This is a free helpline for children and young people on any issue, including abusive relationships. You don’t need to tell them your name. Friendly counsellors will take your call and listen or you can email. Helpline: 0800 1111 (24 hours).
- Stay safe. Make a plan of what you will do to get away from your abuser and stay safe. This can include things like memorising your best friend’s mobile number, keeping your mobile charged, carrying enough money so you can get away from the person who is hurting you, and thinking about how you might react if the person becomes abusive. Check out Brook for more tips on getting away and safety planning.
If you are being abused and are in immediate danger call 999 or use the emergency SMS service to contact the police. You will need to register beforehand.
What is grooming?
Grooming is when an abuser is very nice to you at first and then when they’ve got your trust, they try to turn the relationship into something more sexual. A groomer might give you lots of attention or buy you gifts to get you to like and trust them. They might give you alcohol or drugs too. And make you feel like you should do something they want in return.
You might feel like they are your friend or the only person who really understands you. And so you start to rely on them and do whatever they want. By building up this relationship with you, they hope that you won’t tell anyone about the abuse.
Grooming and sexual exploitation is sexual abuse and can happen to anyone, by anyone and at any age. Groomers can be male or female, the same age as you, adults, and the same sex as you.
This video from Childline (with subtitles) Losing Control might help you identify if you’re being groomed or sexually exploited.
Is someone making you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or worried? Watch this video (BSL and subtitles) and remember PANTS!
- P! Privates are private.
- A! Always remember your body belongs to you.
- N! No means no.
- T! Talk about secrets that upset you.
- S! Speak up, someone can help.
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse is when you are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. It can also happen online. It is also called rape and sexual assault.
This can involve being:
- forced to have sex
- touched in a way you don’t like
- forced to look at sexual pictures or videos
- forced to do something sexual
- forced to watch someone do something sexual, like someone flashing their breasts or genitals (private parts).
An abuser can be someone your own age like a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend. It can be a stranger, an adult you know like a neighbour, family friend or relative. They can be male or female and can also be the same sex as you. It can happen to both boys and girls.
Who can I talk to?
The friendly counsellors at Childline understand how difficult it is to talk about sexual abuse. Whether it’s happening now or happened in the past, they are there for you. Watch their video (with subtitles) How We Can Help.
It’s never too late to tell someone and get help. Even if it happened years ago, carrying that worry around is too much for you to deal with on your own.
- It’s not your fault.
- You’re not alone.
- There are people who can help you.
Call, email or chat with Childline. They will not judge you and are not easily shocked by what you tell them.
Rape Crisis is a service for those who have been raped or experienced any kind of sexual violence.
Men’s Advice Line gives support for boys and men, whatever your age, if you’ve experienced abuse or violence.
Need some more help?
If you’d like more help or support, ask us a question by emailing us (firstname.lastname@example.org).