It's important to be free and safe in a relationship but some are abusive. Find out about the various types of abusive relationships here and what to do if you are in one...

The most important thing is that you're free and safe to do as you like

What does a healthy relationship look like?

When someone really likes or loves you, they treat you with respect and you're free to say no to things you don't want to do. You feel like you can truly be yourself - even if you are different to the other person. The most important thing is that you're free and safe to do as you like.

This doesn't sound like my relationship...

If any of the following things are happening to you, you could be in an abusive relationship.

  • Physical abuse - Hitting, punching or kicking you; pushing you around; blocking your way, or locking you in.
  • Emotional abuse - Constantly putting you down and criticising you, calling you names, dictating and controlling what you wear, controlling your behaviour, making you feel bad about yourself, playing mind games, humiliating you.
  • Sexual abuse - Forcing or pressurising you to do sexual things you don't want to.
  • Financial abuse - Making you feel guilty or like you owe them for things they have bought you, stopping you from getting work, making you depend on them for money, or taking your money.
  • Intimidation - Making you afraid by using looks, actions and gestures, sending nasty phone calls or text messages, or using their physical presence to scare you.
  • Isolation - Controlling what you do, who you talk to and where you go, or stopping you from seeing your friends and family.
  • Blaming, denying & minimising - Denying any abuse or problems, making light of the abuse, saying it was nothing, blaming you for the abuse, or blaming use of drugs or alcohol for the abuse.
  • Using threats - Making threats to hurt you, themselves, your family or your pets if you dump them; threatening to destroy your things, or threatening to spread rumours about you.

When someone who is supposed to love you treats you badly, it can be very hurtful. They might not always treat you like this - so you might think, "It's not that bad". But if someone really likes or loves you, they should treat you with respect, always.

Should I end the relationship?

Working out whether to stay in a relationship or break up can be a hard decision. Maybe you still love them or feel that you would be nothing without them. Maybe you feel trapped or scared of what they might do if you leave.

So, what can I do?

Have a break from the relationship, if you can, or don't see each other as much. Give yourself time to think. It can help to write your feelings down. Find someone to talk to, so you feel less alone: a friend, a sister or brother, a relative, your parents, teacher or ring a helpline. It may help to get a different perspective if you're unsure about some of your partner's behaviour.

This Is Abuse Website

English National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 200 247

Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 80 10 800

Women's Aid Federation (Northern Ireland) 0800 917 1414

Scottish Women's Aid 0800 027 1234

Men's Advice Line 0808 801 0327

There's a comprehensive list of websites and helplines relating to abuse in relationships on this page at This Is Abuse.

Whoever you talk to shouldn't judge or criticise you. Helpline workers will keep what you tell them private (unless they think you are in immediate danger). You should always call 999 if you are in danger. Remember - violence is a crime.

I think my friend's in an abusive relationship, what can I do?

If you think your friend is being abused, here are some ideas on how to provide support.

DO:

  • Let them know that you have noticed that they don't seem happy in their relationship. Tell them you are there if they want to talk about it and listen to them if they do.
  • Believe what they tell you and take the abuse seriously. Help them work out how they can stay safe.
  • Support them whether their decision is to stay or leave.
  • Encourage them to ring a helpline for information and support.

DON'T:

  • Don't blame them for the abuse or make judgmental comments like, "if you stay in the relationship then the abuse is your fault".
  • Don't focus on working out the abuser's reasons for the abuse.
  • Try not to be impatient or critical of them if they are confused about what to do. It is very difficult for anyone to break up a relationship and especially hard if they are being abused.

For more about helping a mate you think may be suffering abuse, AVA Project (Against Violence and Abuse) have created this resource for young people.

Remember, abuse is not normal in a relationship, and it's not OK.

BBC Advice factfiles are here to help young people with a broad range of issues. They're based on advice from medical professionals, government bodies, charities and other relevant groups. Follow the links for more advice from these organisations.