When Love Hurts A guide for girls on love, respect and abuse in relationships
Being in love is supposed to feel great. But sometimes it just feels confusing.
What can you do if you are being hurt, controlled or treated badly in a relationship?
Have you ever felt like this? If so, you're not alone. You can burst the bubble.
This helps you to work out what's okay in a family and what's not.
It tells you what you can do if someone in your family is hurting or abusing you or another member of your family.
What is abuse in relationships?
You might be confused about whether what's happening to you is abuse. This info helps you understand the different kinds of abuse.
Abuse or violence in a relationship is a pattern of behaviour that one person uses against another to intimidate them and to get them to do what they want.
Abuseis not just physical violence. Emotional or sexual abuse can be just as harmful as physical violence.
Sometimes people call this sort of abuse 'dating violence' or 'domestic violence'. Research shows that in relationships, males are most likely to be the abusers, and females are most likely to be the victims. Females can also be abusive, in lesbian and in straight relationships. But here we will be referring to male-to-female abuse in relationships, but the ideas are also relevant to relationships where it is females who are abusive.
This is when your boyfriend or partner puts you down, ignores you or calls you names. It may be about what you are wearing, or how you're acting.
He may want you to stop spending time with your friends and question you on every detail of what you've done without him. He may use jealousy or anger to intimidate you or to control your behaviour, or he might deliberately humiliate you in front of others.
Another form of emotional abuse is when he threatens to hurt himself or other people if you break up with him. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse.
This involves physical acts such as hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, pulling your hair or choking you, or threatening to harm you in any way.
It could involve using a weapon or an object to threaten or hurt you, smashing things or driving a car dangerously to frighten you.
Hurting someone physically or threatening to hurt them is a criminal offence.
This involves pressuring or forcing you to do sexual things that you don't want to do. Even if your boyfriend or partner has not physically forced you to have sex with him, if he tried to manipulate you or coerce you into having sex when you didn't want to (like if he says 'you'd do it if you really loved me' or 'you're frigid'), this is still sexual abuse.
It is also sexual assault if you have been drinking or taking drugs or if you were asleep or unconscious and you were not aware of what was happening. Rape and other forms of sexual assault are criminal offences.
What's Love got to do with it?
Many girls don't realise that their boyfriend or partner behaviour is actually abusive, or they can't find a word for it. Sometimes they are convinced by their boyfriend or partner that his jealous and possessive behaviour is because he loves them. But this kind of treatment isn't love; it's control.
Girl's help kit Some ideas that might help:
If you are in danger you can call the police. Keep the phone number of your local police handy or memorise it in case you need it.
If you have been injured or hurt you can go to a doctor or hospital and get medical help.
Talking to someone about it can help: You might think that no-one will believe you when you tell them what's been happening to you. But when you do find someone who believes you, it can make such a difference to how you feel.
Talking about it can make you feel less alone, and the person you talk to might help you to work out what you want to do.
You might want to: Talk to a friend Talk to an adult you can trust (this could be an older sister or brother, or your parents, a friend's parent, a relative or a counsellor).
They might have some ideas to help you to feel safer. They might be able to help protect you from him, or they might be able to talk to him or warn him about the consequences of his behaviour.
You could talk to someone from a counselling service, either in person or over the phone.
If the first person you speak to makes you feel bad or doesn't listen to you or take it seriously, then try to find someone else.
You deserve to be supported for this.
More ideas that might help you to feel stronger:
Focuson things that you enjoy or feel good at, to build your confidence.
Write your feelings down, keep a journal, or write him a letter that you don't have to send.
Listen to music that has lyrics that help you to feel stronger.
Pay attention to and trust your feelings and gut instincts.
Believe that you don't deserve to be treated this way.
Believe it's not your fault that he behaves this way.
Be proud of the way you've been able to be strong and of the ways you have found to keep going when you've felt so much confusion, fear and hurt.
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