What can I do if I am in an abusive relationship?
If you are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, you have choices. You can stay in the relationship and try to change it to a more healthy and equal relationship or you may need to leave. Either way, don’t do it alone. Don’t try to confront your abuser by yourself or try to leave without a well-established plan and help from others. It is important to carefully plan the right time to safely leave.
Recognise that it is happening to you.
- Accept that you are not to blame.
- If possible, try and extricate yourself from the situation and leave as your personal safety is of paramount importance.
- Do not retaliate physically or verbally.
- Keep a photographic record of injuries.
- Report each incident to your GP or hospital.
- Take advice regarding injunctions from a reliable solicitor.
- Seek help from a local council housing officer, especially if children are involved.
- Ensure that you have your evidence.
When abusive behaviour in a relationship first starts, it can seem like caring, loving behaviour, just perhaps a little over the top. But jealousy, possessiveness controlling what you do or what you wear for instance, can be a sign of abusive behaviour developing. It tends to get worse the longer it continues, and can result in serious violence.
Try the relationship checklist below.
- Do you feel nervous around your boyfriend, girlfriend or partner?
- Do you have to be careful to control your behaviour to avoid their anger?
- Do you feel pressured by them when it comes to sex?
- Are you scared of disagreeing with them?
- Do they criticise or humiliate you in front of other people?
- Are they always checking up on you or questioning you about what you do without them?
- Do they repeatedly and wrongly accuse you of seeing or flirting with other people?
- Do they tell you that if you changed they wouldn’t abuse you?
- Does their jealousy stop you from seeing family or friends?
- Do they make you feel like you are wrong, stupid or inadequate?
- Have they ever scared you with violence or threatening behaviour?
- Do you often do things to please them, rather than to please yourself?
- Do they prevent you from going out or doing things you want to do?
- Do you feel that, with them, nothing you do is ever good enough?
- Do they say that they will kill or hurt themselves if you break up with them?
- Do they make excuses for their behaviour, for example, by saying it’s because of alcohol or drugs, or because they can’t control their temper, or that they were ‘just joking’?
You might have answered ‘yes’ to some of these questions, but still think ‘it’s not that bad’. But feeling scared, humiliated, pressured or controlled is not the way you should feel in a relationship. You should feel loved, respected, and free to be yourself. Your feelings and safety are important.