relationships - dating - love - intimacy - health
The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.

If you're reading this section, chances are you already know your relationship isn't healthy.
All relationships have their ups and downs but there are certain types of behaviour which are unacceptable and abusive.


Domestic violence is not just physical abuse. It can also be psychological or emotional bullying. If you're worried you may be in an abusive relationship, have a look at the links below:

* Assess your relationship with our quick test
* Warning Signs
* Common things abusers say
* Common abusive behaviours

If after reading this section you decide that you are, or might be, in an abusive relationship, there's a lot of information on the rest of this site that will help you to think through your options.

Assess your relationship with our quick test
Answer the 10 questions below to find out whether there are problems you need to address.

Are you afraid of your partner?

Do you feel as if you have to walk on eggshells to keep your partner from getting angry?

Does she/he emotionally abuse you (insults, belittling comments, ignoring you, acting sulky or angry when you initiate an action or idea)?

Does she/he tells you who you may be friends with, how you should dress, or tries to control other elements of your life or relationship?

Does she/he get jealous when there is no reason?

Is physically violent to you or others, even if it's 'just' grabbing and pushing to get his/her way?

Does she/he have extreme mood swings from being kind one minute and cruel the next?

Is she/he angry and threatening to the extent that you have changed your life so as not to 'provoke' him/her?

Does your partner make all the financial decisions without consulting you?

Is it impossible for you to freely express your values and opinions?

If you've said 'yes' to two or more of the above then you may be in an abusive relationship. You may find it useful to have a look at the other articles in this section.

What are the warning signs of an abuser?
This article lists some warning signs to watch out for if you think you, or someone you know, may be in an abusive relationship

The warning signs listed below should make you wary but rather than focusing on single acts, look for patterns of behaviour that show control, restriction and disrespect. No-one should be frightened of their partner or prevented from making choices about their life.

Remember also that abusers are often very charming and convincing to everyone - including their partners, until the abuse starts - and then they often continue to be very charming to everyone else except her.

This often has the effect of making the woman think 'oh it must be me, it must be my fault', especially since the abuser is usually telling her it is. It can also make her feel awkward about telling other people because she won't seem plausible because they only know his 'nice' side.
The single biggest warning sign is:

* If he's been in a violent relationship before. Abusive men rarely change, but it can happen.

* Don't make the mistake of thinking 'it will be different with me - she didn't treat him right'. It's also worth remembering that although there are some men who are abused, almost without exception, every abuser claims that he was really the victim.

Other possible warning signs are:

* He puts your friends down and / or makes it difficult for you to see them.

* He loses his temper over trivial things.

* He has very rigid ideas about the roles of men and women and can't / won't discuss it reasonably.

* His mood swings are so erratic that you find yourself constantly trying to assess his mood and only think in terms of his needs. A healthy relationship has give and take.

* It's difficult for you to get emotional or physical space away from him - even if you directly ask for it. And if you do get it, he 'grills' you about where you've been and who you were with.

* He criticises you all the time - about your weight, your hair, your clothes, etc.

* He makes all the decisions in your relationship and ignores your needs or dismisses them as unimportant.

Common things abusers say
One of the oddest things about perpetrators is that so many of them - presumably without ever talking to one another - say exactly the same things to their partners.

Knowing this can help you understand that many of the hurtful and abusive things your partner may say, are not true. Often they are attempts to avoid responsibility or are said to make it difficult for you to leave..
Here are some examples:

* You're stupid / useless / ugly / putting on weight.

* You can't even keep the house in a decent state / you're a terrible mother / hopeless cook / frigid / whore / no-one else would want you, you're lucky to have me.

* If you tell anyone else about the abuse... you'll be sorry / no-one will believe you / I'll report you to social services as an unfit mother.

* If you try and leave me... you'll never get away / you couldn't cope without me / no-one else will have you / I'll snatch the kids and you'll never see them again / I'll track you down and find you even if it takes years and then I'll kill you so you'll never be able to live in peace never knowing when it will happen...

* If you leave me I'll kill myself and you'll have to explain to our children why their dad is dead and it'll be on your conscience for the rest of your life...

Common abusive behaviours
* Destructive criticism and verbal abuse: shouting, mocking, accusing, name calling, verbally threatening.

* Pressure tactics: sulking, threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away, commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children, lying to your friends and family about you, telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.

* Disrespect: persistently putting you down in front of other people, not listening or responding when you talk, interrupting your telephone calls, taking money from your purse without asking, refusing to help with childcare or housework.

* Breaking trust: lying to you, withholding information from you, being jealous, having other relationships, breaking promises and shared agreements.

* Isolation: monitoring or blocking your telephone calls, telling you where you can and cannot go, preventing you from seeing friends and relatives.

* Harassment: following you, checking up on you, opening your mail, repeatedly dialling 1471 to see who has telephoned you, embarrassing you in public.

* Threats: making angry gestures, using physical size to intimidate, shouting you down, destroying your possessions, breaking things, punching walls, wielding a knife or a gun.

* Sexual violence: using force, threats or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts; having sex with you when you don't want to have sex; any degrading treatment based on your sexual orientation.

* Physical violence: punching, slapping, hitting, biting, pinching, kicking, pulling hair out, pushing, shoving, burning, strangling, raping.

* Denial: saying the abuse doesn’t happen, saying you caused the abusive behaviour, being publicly gentle and patient, crying and begging for forgiveness, saying it will never happen again.

If after reading this you think that you are, or might be, in an abusive relationship, there's a lot of information on the rest of this site that will help you to think through your options.