Young People


Bad Relationships

Anyone can find themselves in a relationship that isn’t healthy. Relationships can be confusing. Even when you feel happy, they could do things that you feel uncomfortable with.

Having a new boyfriend or girlfriend can be really exciting because they make you feel special or safe.

But sometimes relationships start off wrong or even change, and you might feel more isolated from your friends and families. You might find that they are trying to control you, or make you feel unsafe or threatened. You might even feel that you owe them, or would be lost and lonely without them. They may be sexually abusing you, which can happen online or in person.

If someone is pressuring you to have sex or do something sexual, it is wrong – it is never right in any circumstances.

You could be being abused if you’re in an unhealthy relationship. It’s not OK. There are people that can help you at any time.

Spotting the signs of an unhealthy relationship

Relationships can be really confusing. Especially if you really like someone but they do things that you’re just not sure about.

Relationships can sometimes change and it can be hard to spot when things are going wrong.

It’s difficult sometimes to spot the signs of an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes you might think that it’s just banter, but being in an unhealthy relationship can really impact on your mental and physical health.

You have the right to be respected and not do anything that you don’t want to do. Feeling unsafe, unsure or sick could be a sign that you’re not comfortable.

Being in an unhealthy relationship can happen to anyone.

Watch this video from Fixers UK to help you spot the signs.

Ten signs of an unhealthy relationship

Here’s 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship:

• They’re really intense - They’ve got really extreme feelings or really intense behaviour that you might find suffocating. Do they always want to see you and don’t want you to see your friends? Do you think they’re a bit over the top? You should have your own space.

• They’re jealous – We all get a bit a jealous, but the problem is when they try and control you because of it. Are they getting upset when you get a text? Do they look through your phone? Are they really suspicious?

• They’re manipulating you – It’s not always easy to spot, but do they ignore you until they get what they want? Do they try and get in your good books with gifts, and are always apologising?

• They’re isolating you– Do they get annoyed if you don’t spend all your time with them and want to spend time with your friends? Do they make you question your family and friends. Are you becoming reliant on their money, or even their attention?

• Making you feel bad, but then saying it’s a joke – It’s not on if they make rude comments about you or your family, including what you look like. Even if they say it’s a joke it’s not funny.

• Threatening to make you look bad – They could start rumour, or threat to share private information about you, or even stop you getting things done, like school work.

• Making you feel guilty – Making you feel like everything’s your fault, and their happiness relies on you. They could threaten to hurt themselves if you don’t stay with them. Do they guilt you into having sex?

• They fly off the handle – Are you walking on eggshells because they might go off on one. Does it make you feel frightened?

• Acting differently around people - Do they act differently with other people than when they’re with you?

• They don’t accept the blame for their behaviour - They blame you, or blame something else, like mental health problems or what’s happened to them before. It makes you feel guilty.

Have sex when you don’t really want to

Being in an unhealthy relationship can led to you doing sexual things that either you don’t want to do, or think that it’s OK, but really aren’t.

You might think that you’re in a loving relationship, but really they’re using you in some way.

Being controlled in this way can happen to anyone under the age of 18: male or female, straight, gay or bisexual, disadvantaged or privileged, and from any background.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or girl – it can happen to anyone.

Thinking that lots of other people are doing it shouldn’t be a reason to start having sex. Don’t be pressured into it.

Are any of these happening to you in your relationship?

Check Disrespect NoBody to check if you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

Sexual relationship abuse

Do any of these stories remind you of your situation or someone you know?

They may try to gain your trust by:

• Giving you lots of attention, and introducing a load of new people to you – especially if you’re feeling low or don’t have a great home life

• Introducing an older girl or boy to you to make friends, but actually they’re part of the gang that abuses people

• Giving you alcohol or drugs

• Talking to you a lot over social media and paying you a lot of compliments

They make you feel that you owe them in return, or make you feel threatened or scared, so that you feel that you have no choice but to:

• Have sex or do something sexual with them or with others

• Taking sexual images

• Looking at sexual pictures or watching them do something sexual

When things can get even worse - Trafficking

If someone is encouraging you to deal drugs on their behalf, making you work in a house or a business for little or no pay, forcing you to beg and taking the money, making you having sex against your will, - or anything where they are forcing you to do something while benefiting themselves, you could be a victim of trafficking.

You are being exploited if someone does any of the following things:

• Forces you to work day and night

• Stops you from having contact with others

• Threatens you or your family

• Control what you do everyday

• Sends you to different locations to grow or sell drugs

• Pressures you to take part in activities such as begging, shoplifting or pick pocketing

• Traps you into debt

Keeping safe

The following advice will help you keep yourself safe whilst out and about or online.

Ways to keep and stay safe out and about

  • Stick with mates a similar age to you – a good mate won’t ask you to do stuff you’re uncomfortable with
  • If you feel you can’t say no, ask yourself: ‘Am I in a safe situation?’
  • If someone offers you something for free, ask what they want in return
  • Listen to your body – a fast, pounding heartbeat and churning stomach are signs you feel unsafe
  • Be careful what personal details – including photos – you give out
  • Make sure you know where you are going and how to get home. Have credit and charge on your phone
  • Make sure someone you trust always knows where you are
  • Drinking and taking drugs can make you unaware of unsafe situations and you can become a target for people who may hurt you

Keeping safe online

  • Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number
  • Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you’ve put a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore
  • Don’t befriend people you don’t know
  • Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Speak to your parent or carer about people suggesting you do
  • Be careful what personal details – including photos – you give out
  • Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
  • Never give out your passwords
  • If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website, turn off your computer if you want to and tell a trusted adult immediately

About Sexting

Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video on their mobile phone, usually in a text message.

Many young people think that sexting is okay and a normal part of healthy relationship. However, it’s important to understand the risks around sexting, and how easily sexting can go wrong – even when you don’t think it will.

Nearly 1 in 5 people receiving a sext have passed it onto someone else, or even posted it onto the Internet with devastating results for the victim involved and the person who shared the image.

The impact of sexting

Sexting can ruin relationships and the police can become involved if you are under the age of consent. See for yourself - watch how sexting can get out of hand and have a massive impact on people’s lives in this video.

After watching the video, test yourself with this quick online quiz created by MTV to see if you understand the impact of sexting and online privacy.

Think before sending a photo:

Your photo could go anywhere - Once you press send, it is no longer in your control. It can be posted anywhere on the internet. It could end up on social networking sites or even porn sites.

Anyone could see it - Don’t send anything you wouldn’t want your parents, teachers or friends seeing. Even if you completely trust someone, other people using their phone might accidently see it.

Beware screenshotting - Even if you use a webcam or an app like Snapchat, the person can take a screen shot in seconds.

People may not want your image - If you want to impress somebody, you can do it in other ways. In most cases, sexting can have the opposite effect and you could be seen as somebody you’re not.

Dealing with someone who asks for naked photos:

• If someone’s trying to get you to send them naked images of yourself, download the Zipit app to keep the situation in control. Zipit features a number of flirty and amusing comebacks to help you stay in control of your chat game.

• You can also ask them to stop, and if they are making you upset or bothering you then you should consider blocking them – even if it’s just for a bit.

• If an adult is making you uncomfortable by asking for naked images then this could be serious. They could be attempting to exploit you. Consider talking to someone you trust, talking confidentially to the NSPCC on the phone, or reporting the incident .

Video Stories

Take a look at the stories in the videos to see what we mean. Don’t feel ashamed – it’s never too late to get help.

Talk to someone you trust – that can be a teacher, or someone else.

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