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Should I be worried?

It can be really difficult to tell when a relationship is abusive, especially for others outside the relationship. Maybe the relationship is an unhappy one, or challenging for different reasons, or its just a relationship that looks different from what we're used to ourselves.


However, if something doesn't feel right, or you've noticed a potential sign of abuse, don't ignore your gut feeling. Ignoring the signs could leave the person you're worried about feeling more alone. Taking notice is the first step to helping them. 


Answer the questions below whilst thinking about the relationship you are concerned about:


Red Flags 

Remember: This is not an exhaustive list, there are many potential indicators of abuse. Some of these behaviours might also have other, perfectly reasonable explanations. If you are still unsure, talk to us.


The abuser might:

  • Purposefully disagree with things their partner says. ​

  • Silence their partner during conversations by accusing them of something or changing the topic.​

  • Tell jokes that hurt their partners feelings then complain that they are too sensitive.

  • Make their partner feel as if their emotions are wrong or that they don't matter.

  • Make their partner apologise for things they didn't do.

  • Make their partner feel selfish or stupid because of their actions.​

  • Put words in their partner's mouth or speak for them without their consent to undermine their self-esteem.​

  • Have sharp mood swings. One moment they seem distant, the next they are not available, and then they are loving.

  • Deny things said or actions that took place, including previous abuse from a past relationship. 

  • Blame their partner for everything and not take any responsibility themselves.

  • Say things like they can't live without their partner and wouldn't be able to cope without them.

  • Dislike a lot of their partner's friends and not want them to spend time with other people.

  • Use other people (e.g. family members or friends) to spy on them and report back or to make their case for them.

  • Push for commitment and declarations of love early-on in the relationship, so the relationship gets serious quickly.

  • Be jealous of other people their partner sees, including family and friends, but also things they spend their time on like work and activities.

The victim might:

  • Avoid doing things they know will make their partner angry. i.e., posting on social media, seeing friends. ​

  • Feel the need to constantly check in and update their partner of their whereabouts. ​

  • Change their appearance and/or behaviour.

  • Seem confused as the abuser creates doubt in the victim's perception or memory of an event.​

  • Defend their partner to their friends and family and make excuses for their behaviour.

  • Act overly happy, suspiciously happy; you have a sense that they smile on the outside, cry on the inside.​

  • Question their sanity or behaviour while asking for your advice.​

  • Ask their partner how they feel about  everything or not be able to make a decision without their partner's approval​.

  • Seem defensive and feel you are judging them, or explain things that need no explanation.

  • Be around less and be less available for social events.

  • Have location sharing on their phone and share their passwords with their partner.

  • Say their partner is insecure, jealous, worried about, or has accused them of, cheating.

  • Stop doing things they previously enjoyed, like hobbies, studying and even leaving their job.

  • Hide things they've bought or seem anxious about their partner seeing what they've bought, they might ask you to keep it a secret and make excuses for why, such as 'its a surprise for them'.

  • Leave their purse 'at home' or make other excuses to avoid joining friends or colleagues for coffee or meals out.

  • Blame themselves for their partner's behaviour.

Red Flag
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