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8 signs of a toxic relationship

Blog post | 22 May 2024

Recognising signs that you're in an abusive or toxic relationship may not be easy. It's important to pay attention to any warning signs that something might not be right in your relationship.

Remember, you're not alone and help is always available. Call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service.

If you're a child or young person, call Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), a confidential counselling service for young people aged between 5 and 25.

  1. You feel humiliated — your partner puts you down in public or private. The attacks may be anything about you, including how you look, your intelligence or interests.
  2. You sacrifice your own needs to make others happy — you're always trying to please your partner and you put their needs before your own, but they don't respond to you in the same way. They don't appreciate the sacrifices you make. In fact, they're controlling and hold back positive emotion, such as love for you.
  3. You're not respected — your partner doesn't accept you for who you are. They may disagree with your values or opinions, and don't consider your needs.
  4. Your concerns are dismissed — you voice your concerns with your partner, but they dismiss what you have to say. Conflict may arise that isn't resolved, and it becomes out of control. Poor conflict resolution may involve lying, shouting and not taking responsibility.
  5. You're not allowed to see or talk to friends or family — your partner restricts you or prevents you from communicating with your friends and family.
  6. You're controlled — this is when your partner wants to know where you are at all times. You lack freedom because they control what socialising you do. If you don't tell them where you're going and who you're seeing, they become angry.
  7. You're constantly criticised — your partner is critical of how you look, the decisions you make, your mental health and your intelligence.
  8. You experience physical, emotional or mental abuse — these 3 types of abuse cause physical, sexual or psychological harm. Examples of these may be if your partner inflicts pain on your body, pressures you into doing sexual things, or says or does something to make you feel bad.

If you (or someone else) are in danger, or if you have been threatened, physically hurt or sexually assaulted, call triple zero (000)

Red flags of a toxic relationship.
Red flags of a toxic relationship.

What are signs of a healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship with your partner and family members can improve your health and wellbeing, and make everyone feel good about themselves. This is what a healthy relationship looks like:

  • You practise respectful behaviour and feel respected by your partner.
  • You have open and clear communication with your partner. This type of communication is when you're empathetic, calm, welcoming, a good listener and not defensive.
  • You connect freely with your friends and family.
  • You have the freedom to pursue your hobbies and activities.
  • You feel safe, and never threatened.

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