Warning signs of an abusive relationship

It may not always be obvious that you’re in an abusive relationship. It can be common for someone who is being abused to believe that it’s their own fault and that they somehow ‘deserve’ the abuse. Remember: you’re never to blame for the way an abusive person treats you.

A relationship can be violent and abusive without physical violence. It can include emotional, sexual and physical abuse, and may involve control of your finances.

Here are some signs to look for.


  • They check on you all the time to see where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with.
  • They try to control where you go and who you see, and get angry if you don’t do what they say.
  • They constantly send text messages and want to know what you are doing every moment of the day.


  • They accuse you of being unfaithful or of flirting.
  • They isolate you from family and friends, often by behaving rudely to them.


  • They put you down, either publicly or privately, by attacking your intelligence, appearance, opinions, mental health or capabilities.
  • They constantly compare you unfavourably to others.
  • They blame you for all the problems in your relationship, and for their violent outbursts.
  • They say things like, ‘No one else will want you.’


  • They yell or sulk, and deliberately break things that you value.
  • They threaten to use violence against you, your family, friends or a pet.

Physical and sexual violence

  • They push, shove, hit or grab you, or make you have sex or do things you don’t want to do.
  • They harm you, your family members or your pets.

How can you keep yourself safe?

An abuser may try to control you by downplaying the seriousness of what they’re doing to you. As a result, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of danger you’re in. It’s very important to protect yourself from harm if you feel that you’re being abused. You never have to do this alone. It’s really important that you have support.

Get support

Making a decision to leave a situation where you feel unsafe may be hard and scary. If possible, talk to someone you trust, such as a friend, counsellor or youth worker.

Go to a refuge

A shelter or refuge is a place where you can seek temporary accommodation. They will help you with a plan for longer-term accommodation. There are also usually other services available in refuges, including legal advice, emotional support, practical help (such as food and clothing), and good security.

Stay with family or a friend

Ask a trusted family member or friend if you can stay with them while you work out what to do next.

Talk to emergency services or the police

If you’ve been injured or sexually assaulted, contact emergency services or visit your nearest hospital emergency department. You can access counselling from a sexual assault counsellor to support you through this process. If you feel unsafe, talk to the police. They’re there to protect you. You can also call national support lines to talk about the risks you face.

Know your worth

If someone is hurting you, or threatening to hurt you, it can be hard to maintain your self-confidence or feelings of self-worth. You might even want to blame yourself. Remember that it’s never okay for someone to hurt you or threaten to hurt you. The best thing you can do in this situation is to get some support to help you plan a path to safety. Reconnecting with friends or family can remind you of who you are and how much other people love and care for you.

Read about your rights

Check out your legal rights. Every countries has laws designed to protect you against all forms of domestic violence.

Tu Pham