It feels wonderful to be in love!

And it can be exciting, romantic and fun to be in a relationship. You’re probably in a good relationship if you feel comfortable expressing your thoughts, opinions and feelings – and if your partner treats you with kindness and dignity.

Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy and respectful.

Some people find themselves involved with others who are physically and emotionally hurtful. Your relationship might be abusive if there is anything about it that makes you feel scared, worried, ashamed or uncomfortable.

Here are seven obvious signs your partner is acting abusively:

  1. They act jealous and possessive
  2. They keep you away from your friends and family
  3. They decide how you should dress or act
  4. They hit, kick, or punish you – or use unwanted force on you in any way
  5. They use guilt or manipulation to get you to do things you don’t want to do
  6. They insult you, degrade you, and/or humiliate you
  7. They force you into sexual acts

Abuse can happen gradually

At first, you might not be sure if what’s happening to you is wrong. Maybe you’re used to being treated badly or don’t believe that you deserve to be treated well. Most people don’t want to admit or believe they’re in an abusive relationship.

You may find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behaviour or thinking some of the following thoughts:

  • “They only pushed me. It’s no big deal.”
  • “I can handle this. I can make it stop.”
  • “I asked for it because I provoked them.”
  • “Name calling isn’t really abuse.”
  • “They’re just doing it because they love me.”
  • “They promised they’d never do it again.”

Abuse is still abuse even if it only happens “once in a while” or if your partner promises not to hurt you again.

Maybe you recognize that there’s a problem but you’re too ashamed, embarrassed or scared to tell your family and friends. You might be afraid of losing your partner or worried that no one will believe you. Or maybe you don’t feel able to leave the relationship because you’re confused or don’t feel very confident.

The reality is, if you stay in the relationship the abuse may get worse.

All relationships have difficulties but no relationship should EVER include violence or abuse. You’re not responsible for the other person, and your decision to leave or stay should not be guided by fear. If you’re afraid or intimidated in your relationship, you need to talk to someone you trust right away: a friend, family member, counsellor – anyone you feel safe opening up to.

You have a right to be treated with respect and you deserve to feel safe.