Throughout our lives we have many different types of relationships, those with our parents, siblings, friends, neighbours, teachers and many other people. Communication is key in all relationships. We also have romantic and/or sexual relationships as we get older. A caring relationship is when two people feel good about themselves and each other.

Good relationships

Good relationships include things like:

  • being good friends
  • space and freedom to do your own thing
  • knowing your opinions are respected
  • having your own interests
  • listening to each other
  • having fun together
  • being able to disagree with each other
  • being able to go at your own pace (including sex)
  • making decisions together
  • being able to talk about it when you have had an argument

With someone who:

  • is a caring non-abusive person
  • is cheerful
  • is consistent
  • is supportive
  • says you look good
  • uses your name
  • trusts you
  • is happy to meet your friends and family
  • encourages you to be independent
  • supports your learning and career
  • is not afraid to admit being wrong
  • accepts that you have a right to say no to sex and respects that
  • takes responsibility for their own wellbeing and happiness
  • listens to you
  • respects your opinion
  • makes you feel safe

Abusive relationships

Uncaring relationships may involve your partner:

  • getting angry when you talk to other people
  • calling you names, puts you down and makes you feel bad
  • being verbally aggressive or physically threatening you
  • using force, threats, emotional blackmail or bargains to make you do things you don’t want to
  • posting unpleasant or intimate details about you on the internet

An abusive partner may:

  • shout
  • sulk
  • call you names
  • make you feel ugly and useless
  • get angry
  • spend all your money
  • expect sex on demand
  • threaten to harm you, your family/friends, your pets or property

What are the danger signs?

The following actions are danger signs of an abusive relationship:

Sexual abuse

If someone does sexual things to you that you don’t agree to, this is sexual abuse.

Jealousy and isolation

Jealousy and isolation is when someone cuts you off from your friends or gets angry when you talk to other people.


Aggression is when someone shouts at you or yells at you, uses physical violence or uses violence to solve problems.

Put downs

Put downs are when someone makes you feel stupid, calls you names, makes nasty comments or generally puts you down.


Control is when someone checks up on you all the time, threatens or forces you to do things you don’t want to do or doesn’t let you make your own decisions.

Where to go for help

Relationship abuse is not a one-off event. It is a cycle and usually gets worse if nothing is done to stop it. Abusers are responsible for their own behaviour and it is not your fault. If you are in an abusive relationship, the best thing for you to do is end it. This may be a tough decision to make and you may need help.

Call the police on 999

Visit Childline for details of counsellors who can talk to you about any problem.

Sexwise is a free, confidential advice line on sex, relationships and contraception for young people aged 18 or under. It’s open from 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and 11am to 4pm Saturday to Sunday. Call 0300 123 7123.