Abusive teenage relationships

Abuse in teenage relationships is when you begin to feel scared or controlled by the person you're with. You may be confused because it feels like a loving relationship but often only when you behave in a certain way. This can happen at any age, regardless of gender.

What are the signs of teenage relationship abuse? 

Below are a list of some of the most common signs of teenage relationship abuse:

  • Emotional abuse: controlling behaviour, like telling someone where they can go and what they can wear

  • Online abuse: threatening to post personal pictures or information about them

  • Controlling someone’s finances: withholding money or stopping someone going to work

  • Snooping: reading emails, text messages or letters

  • Sexual abuse: making someone do something sexual when they don’t want to

  • Physical abuse: violence towards someone, such as kicking, punching, hitting

You don’t have to be living with someone for a toxic relationship to develop — some young people will experience relationship abuse while living with their parents or carers. It can happen in any relationship and can continue once the relationship is over, it can happen to boys and girls. What is most important to remember is, it is never your fault.

What to do if you're in an abusive teenage relationship

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If your boyfriend or girlfriend is being physically or emotionally abusive in anyway, including over the phone, messaging or using social media, this is relationship abuse.

They may be putting pressure on you to go and see them or do things online that you are not comfortable with. 

If this is happening, you should speak to someone you trust, but only when you feel safe to do so. Send a message or call a trusted adult and let them know you're worried. There are also helplines you can call:

Abuse helplines

  • Childline: call 0800 1111, or sign up so you can online chat and send messages (9am - midnight)
  • The police: if it's an emergency, call 999. If you can't speak, listen to the questions and tap or cough to answer. Press 55 to signal an emergency.

If you are worried that a young person you know is in an abusive relationship or living in a family where one adult is being abusive to another, you should reach out to them and let them know about these support lines.

I'm worried about harming someone I love 

If you are worried about the way you are behaving towards your boyfriend or girlfriend or towards a family member you should also call an abuse helpline or speak to someone who can help you manage your behaviours.