All relationships are different. There isn’t such a thing as a ‘normal’ relationship, but there are healthy and unhealthy behaviours in relationships. If you feel unsafe or recognise any of the negative signs below, think about taking action or contact us for support.

We support all survivors of domestic abuse, regardless of whether the abuse has been reported or when it took place. Our support services are free, confidential and available to anyone who has experienced domestic violence.

We also run a 10 week online programme for women who have experienced domestic abuse. Find out more about iMatter and eligibility.

  • They always treat me with respect, no matter where we are or who we’re with.
  • They’re proud of me when I achieve something.
  • They encourage me to keep trying with things I find hard.
  • They’re comfortable with me spending time away from them, with family and other friends.
  • They try to do some of the things I like, such as sports, cinema and music.
  • They respect me when I say no or disagree.
  • They can talk about their feelings with me.
  • They don’t cheat on me, and trust me not to cheat on them.
  • They listen to me when we disagree and try to see my point of view.
  • They give me compliments and say positive things about me to others.
  • They have friends and interests of their own.
  • They don’t rush our relationship; we can take it slow.
  • They ask my opinion when deciding important things that affect us both.
  • They make threats and do things that make me feel frightened.
  • They put me down just to make me feel bad when we’re alone or around friends.
  • They make me do things I don’t want to do without listening to me.
  • They make me feel guilty if I don’t spend time with them.
  • They don’t try to get on with my friends or family.
  • They hit, slap or push me.
  • They look through my phone, social media or web history.
  • They want to know where I am all the time.
  • They cheat on me or accuse me of cheating on them.
  • They steal from me or make me buy them things.
  • They make me have sex when I don’t want to.

All relationships are different and depending on your own individual situation, you may need specialist help and support.

Relationships impact on us a lot. It’s really important if you’re beginning to feel unsafe that you look at what’s causing it.

How do you know if you’re feeling unsafe? Here are some early warning signs:

  • You’re becoming a lot more critical of yourself — thinking you’re always doing things wrong, are unattractive/unlovable or unable to support yourself or do things you used to do.
  • You give up on your own opinions and think your partner’s right about everything.
  • You’re feeling more stressed or worried all the time; you feel nauseous or have bad butterflies. Sometimes stress can also stop us eating and sleeping properly, or cause us to have headaches.
  • You have that ‘dreaded’ feeling more often.
  • You’re scared of how your partner will react to a situation.
  • You avoid saying something because you don’t want to upset your partner.
  • You feel scared when your partner is angry because you can’t predict their behaviour.
  • You’re feeling a pressure to change who you are or move the relationship further than you want to.
  • You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
  • You’re staying in more and seeing less of family and friends to avoid arguments with your partner.

There are many different reasons why people stay in relationships when they’re being abused.

You might feel frightened to leave, as you worry the person abusing you will try to stop you, and become even more violent. You might also rely on the person abusing you for practical or financial support, or you may worry about losing your home and access to your children. You may enjoy the good times you have with them and keep hoping it won’t happen again.

Never forget it is a crime for someone you know to abuse you in your own home or anywhere else — whether they’re your partner, a family member or someone you share your home with. Whatever the person abusing you might say, physical and emotional violence like this is never your fault.

Nobody has the right to hurt you in this way. You may be made to feel responsible and guilty for the abuse, but the source of the problem is the abuser, not you.

If you recognise any of the early warning signs in your relationship, there are people who can listen and help you decide your next steps. You might not want or feel able to end your relationship at the moment, but it’s important you get help to end the abuse. Without intervention, it’s unlikely the abuse will stop on its own.

There are many ways you can ask for help and you don’t always need to report to the police. These could include: