Healthy relationships are about respecting each other, feeling loved, safe and free to be yourself – whether that’s with a boyfriend, girlfriend or family member.
As part of our Is This Love? campaign, we’re asking you to consider whether your relationship or the relationships around you are healthy. Or whether they might be abusive.
What is Domestic Abuse?
Domestic violence and abuse is a pattern of behaviour designed to achieve power or control over another person. This could be through physical violence, but can also be psychological, sexual, financial and emotional.
The signs of domestic abuse may not be as clear as you’d think as it can be about controlling someone’s mind and emotions, as much as hurting their body, for example:
- Bullying, threatening or controlling behaviour
- Controlling the money
- Cutting you/their partner off from family and friends
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
We’ve expanded on these on our ‘Know the signs of domestic abuse‘ webpage.
Are the signs different for men?
Signs of domestic abuse against men are often the same, and that’s true whether the abusive partner is a woman or man. It may be emotional or verbal – like taking away keys, medicines or other essentials, or constantly putting you down in public or on social media. It can also be physical. To make up for differences in strength, abusive partners may attack you in your sleep, by surprise or with weapons and other objects. They may also abuse your children or pets.
Are the signs different for the LGBTQ+ community?
Many of the signs of domestic abuse are often the same, but the abuse may also target sexual orientation or gender identity. Your abuser may:
- Make excuses for abuse, like it’s just how men are or that you wanted it to happen
- Tell you that police or others won’t help because of your gender or orientation
- Tell you that you’re not really how you identify
- Threaten to out you to family, friends, and others
Take our relationship quiz to find out if your relationship, or relationships around you, are healthy.
What if someone I know is in an abusive relationship?
If you think a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, or you’re experiencing domestic abuse at home, it’s really important to talk to someone you trust.
This can be a family member, friend or a trusted adult at your school. You might also want to speak to someone confidentially – you can contact Stop Domestic Abuse, our domestic abuse team, on 023 9206 5494 or by email.
Our ‘Know the signs of domestic abuse‘ webpage outlines what you can do in more detail.
Teaching Is This Love in schools and colleges
Every year, we deliver a lesson to Years 9 and above called ‘Is This Love?’ to address issues around healthy and unhealthy relationships for young people, and the relationships around them.
And, since September 2020, relationships education – including recognising abusive behaviour – has been compulsory in every primary school, and relationships and sex education – which covers domestic abuse – is compulsory in every secondary school.
Find out more about how we deliver Is This Love in schools and colleges. You can request for our PHSE Framework Development Officer, Chantelle Knight, to deliver the lesson for you – or you can watch it online. Read more.
Useful links and videos
You might find the following links and videos useful.
- Disrespect NoBody – A national campaign aimed at teenagers which focuses on healthy relationships, respecting each other and spotting the signs of relationship abuse. Find out more about sexting, consent, rape, sexual harassment and relationship abuse.
- The Hide Out – A space created by Women’s Aid to help children and young people to understand domestic abuse in a way that’s easy to read and understand, and know how to take positive action if it’s happening to you.
- Love Respect – A campaign developed by Women’s Aid to provide advice about relationships and abuse for young people. Women’s Aid believes that love shouldn’t feel bad, and that everyone has the right to be safe and happy. The campaign aims to empower young people to talk about relationships and relationship abuse.
Please be aware that these videos contain sensitive footage and will not be appropriate for every age group. Adult discretion is advised. Please watch first before showing to a child, or ask a trusted person to watch with you.
- Abuse in relationships: Would you stop yourself? A Home Office ‘This Is Abuse’ campaign aimed at teenagers highlighting abuse in younger relationships.
- Is It Love? A Film about abusive relationship. A short, animated film about abusive relationships, made up of interviews given by young victims of domestic violence who share their poignant stories openly and honestly.
- YungStar Fast Car Tracy Chapman Cover – Bridgend Women’s Aid. Showing domestic abuse between parents. This may be upsetting for some pupils to watch.
In an emergency situation always call 999 for help.
If you are safe, but need to report a crime such as criminal damage, physical violence or sexual violence, call the Police on 101.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need support, please get in touch with the Stop Domestic Abuse service, our domestic abuse team, for advice and support on 023 9206 5494 or by email. Our experienced specialist team is on hand to discuss your concerns and needs, 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am – 6pm weekends and bank holidays. Contact can be by phone or face-to-face in a safe location.