Healthy relationships involve respect, trust, and consideration for the other person.
Abusive relationships don’t have these qualities. Instead, they involve mistreatment,
disrespect, intense jealousy, controlling behavior, or physical violence.
What Is Abuse?
Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Physical abuse means any form of violence,
such as hitting, punching, pulling hair, and kicking. Abuse can happen in both dating
relationships and friendships.
Emotional abuse can be difficult to recognize. Sometimes people mistake intense
jealousy and possessiveness as a sign of intense feelings of love. It may even seem
flattering at first. Threats, intimidation, putdowns, controlling behavior, and betrayal
are all harmful forms of emotional abuse that can really hurt — not just during
the time it's happening, but long after too.
Sexual abuse can happen to anyone, guy or girl. It's never right to be forced into
any type of sexual experience that you don't want.
The first step in getting out of an abusive relationship is to realize that you
have the right to be treated with respect and not be physically or emotionally harmed
by another person.
Signs of Abusive Relationships
Important warning signs that you may be involved in an abusive relationship include
harms you physically in any way, including slapping, pushing, grabbing, shaking,
smacking, kicking, and punching
tries to control different aspects of your life, such as how you dress, who you
hang out with, and what you say
frequently humiliates you or makes you feel unworthy (for example, if a partner
puts you down but tells you that he or she loves you)
threatens to harm you, or to self-harm, if you leave the relationship
twists the truth to make you feel you are to blame for your partner's actions
demands to know where you are at all times
constantly becomes jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends
Unwanted sexual advances that make you uncomfortable are also red flags. Saying
things like "If you loved me, you would . . ." is a warning of possible abuse, and
a sign that your partner is trying to manipulate you. A statement like this is controlling
and is used by people who are only concerned about getting what they want —
not caring about what you want. Trust your intuition. If something doesn't feel right,
it probably isn't.
Signs That a Friend Is Being Abused
In addition to the signs listed above, here are some signs a friend might be being abused
by a partner:
unexplained bruises, broken bones, sprains, or marks
excessive guilt or shame for no apparent reason
secrecy or withdrawal from friends and family
avoidance of school or social events with excuses that don't seem to make any
A person who is being abused needs someone to hear and believe him or her. Maybe
your friend is afraid to tell a parent because that will bring pressure to end the
relationship. People who are abused often feel like it's their fault — that
they "asked for it" or that they don't deserve any better. But abuse is never deserved.
Help your friend understand that it is not his or her fault. Your friend does not
deserve to be mistreated. The person who is being abusive has a serious problem and
needs professional help.
A friend who is being abused needs you to listen and support without judging. It
takes courage to admit being abused. Your friend also needs your encouragement to
get help immediately from an adult, such as a parent, family member, or health professional.
How to Help Yourself
If you think you're in an abusive relationship, it's time to get out of it. Confide
in someone, such as a parent, trusted adult, health provider, or friend. Let them
support you and help you end the relationship and stay safe.
If you have been physically harmed, get medical attention or call the police. Get
help from a counselor or therapist if you feel confused or unsure of whether you're
in an abusive relationship.