Respectful relationships

If you are in a relationship with someone and they are constantly trying to dominate or control what you do, such as:

  • Telling you who to have as friends.
  • Telling you what to wear or criticizing your appearance.
  • Telling you when to go out.

.. this is not healthy, it’s abusive behaviour. It’s never OK.

In abusive relationships the different forms of abuse are used as a form of control, including threats to harm if a boy/girlfriend doesn’t do as they say. Many people stay in abusive relationships because they blame themselves for the abuse, or sometimes they don’t even realise that the behaviour is abusive. Sometimes they think things will get better. Unfortunately in most cases, the abuse only gets worse.

Often things like alcohol, drugs, provocation, religion and even cultural beliefs are used as excuses for abusive behaviour. But the truth is there is NO excuse for being abusive and trying to excuse the behaviour is as wrong as the behaviour itself.

Examples of abusive behaviour in a relationship include:

  • Name calling and swearing/abusing you to make you feel bad
  • turning around every argument/ disagreement so that it’s always your fault, never theirs
  • threatening to hurt or kill you or someone close to you – or threatening to hurt themselves if you don’t do what they want you to
  • Cyber-bullying/sexting – using technology or social media to harass, intimidate or threaten you.
  • Forcing or pressuring you to engage in sexual activity, including posing for sexually explicit photos.
  • Stalking
  • Direct physical contact – pushing, shoving, choking, pulling hair, kicking etc.
  • Indirect contact such as deliberately placing objects in your path to hurt you, or placing you in situations that will cause you harm.
  • Damaging your property
  • Pressures or forces you to use drugs, alcohol, cigarettes.

It is important to identify acts of verbal and emotional abuse. This is FDV and often ‘warning signs’ for more severe forms of violence down the track.

If any of these signs are like something you are experiencing, you probably feel sad, hurt and alone. You may feel like it’s your fault; like you can’t talk to anyone about it or afraid that you will get hurt if you tell anyone what’s been happening. You need to understand that it’s not OK to be treated like this and there is help available.

Are you worried about the things happening in your relationship? Or worried that your behaviour is getting out of control? Check out the following quizzes:

How your partner treats you

Has this happened to you?
  • Your partner has hurt you physically, or tried to hurt you?
  • Your partner threatens to hurt or kill you or a family pet, or acts in a way that intentionally scares and intimidates you?
  • You are constantly put down or criticized by your partner and made to feel stupid and worthless. This includes being embarrassed when out with friends, or
  • Your partner forces you to have sex or preform sexual acts against your will. This includes taking photographs or videos without your knowledge or permission?
  • Your partner threatens to spread private information about you across social media, or threatens to reveal sexually explicit photographs or videos of you to others?
  •  You are constantly and unfairly being accused of cheating, or your partner’s jealousy and suspicion is making you feel upset or worried?

If you answered Yes to any of the above statements, it could mean that you aren’t being treated right in your relationship.  If you are confused about what is and is not OK, you can contact a counsellor or helpline to talk to them about it.

How you treat your partner

Am I abusive?
  • Do you often call your partner names and constantly criticize them?
  • Have you ever tried to stop your partner doing something that they wanted to do? For example, going out with friends, having a job, studying?
  • Do you take control of the finances, so your partner is not allowed to access it for their own personal use?
  • Have you ever threatened to hit or throw something at your partner?
  • Or threatened to hit or hurt their family, friends or pets?
  • Have you ever unfairly accused your partner of paying too much attention to someone else?
  • Have you ever slapped, hit, pushed, kicked or shoved your partner, or pulled their hair?
  • Have you ever pressured your partner to have sex when they didn’t want to?
  • Have you ever threatened to expose personal details about your partner,particularly around your sexual activity? For example, publishing sexually explicit photos or video, or spreading it across social media?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, chances are you can’t simply sort things out by yourself. You will need to seek help from a professional trained in domestic violence. The Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline has professionals on the line that you can talk to.

Telephone (08) 9223 1199
Free call 1800 000 599

What do respectful relationships look like?

A respectful relationship is built on a foundation of trust, respect, compromise, and understanding for one another and being comfortable in each other’s company. An abusive relationship occurs when one person dominates, bullies and controls the other on almost everything.

Obsessive jealousy can often be mistaken for love, but it is an underlying form of control and possessiveness. If you respect and trust each other it shouldn’t matter who you talk to or hang out with.

Respectful relationships include:

  • respecting each other’s feelings, opinions, and friendships
  • having fun together
  • feeling comfortable and at ease with one another
  • being free to be yourself
  • being able to disagree without feeling intimidated
  • being able to spend time away from your relationship without negative consequences
  • being able to say no when you don’t want to do things, including sex.