Unhealthy relationships and domestic abuse

2 December 2020

Lockdown has put even the healthiest relationships under pressure. Unhealthy relationship behaviours can start to emerge where things have appeared fine before. We discuss what domestic abuse is, what the signs are and what you can do to keep yourself and others safe.

People talking over coffee

What is domestic abuse?

It is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer. In the majority of cases the perpetrator is male and the victim is female, but this is not always the case.

Spotting the signs

Below are some of the signs of domestic abuse (this list is not exhaustive)

  • Is your partner jealous and possessive?
  • Are they charming one minute and abusive the next?
  • Do they tell you what to wear, where to go, who to see?
  • Do they constantly put you down or make you feel bad?
  • Do they play mind games and make you doubt your judgment?
  • Do they control your money?
  • Do they pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Are you starting to walk on eggshells to avoid making them angry?
  • Do they monitor or track your movements or messages?
  • Do they use anger and intimidation to frighten and control you?

Don’t suffer in silence

If these signs ring true in your relationship support is available and accessible under all conditions, even when you are living with the perpetrator and do not spend much time apart. You may not feel able to directly challenge your partner and it may be safer to report what is happening to Police for them to step in and help you to take control of the situation.

To explore more information about support during Covid-19 you can visit National Domestic Abuse Helpline which has information about their online, text and phone support services.

If you would like support at UCL, you can report anonymously on Report+Support and you can opt for an advisor to contact you if you wish to speak to someone.

Last revised: 8 September 2021.

Sophie Bimson, UCL's Crime Prevention and Personal Safety Adviser