But how do you know if your relationship has gone from just bad to abusive?
Some things are obvious, like hitting or non-consensual sex. But abuse can be many other things, such as repeatedly being called derogatory names.
There are different types of abuse
- physical abuse-grabbing you forcefully, squeezing, pinching, scratching, pushing, stepping on you, hitting, kicking, pulling hair or clothes, throwing something at you, strangling, grabbing your face to make you return the gaze, etc.
- psychological abuse-using words and aggressive behaviour to pressure you and limit your freedom, for example making threats, taking control over what you can do, who you can see, and what you can wear, degrading comments and manipulation
- sexual abuse-anything from groping to rape, any situation in which you are forced to perform a sexual act against your will, engaging in sexual activity with you when you are incapacitated through alcohol or drugs or asleep, taking intimate photos of you without your consent, pressuring you to watch porn, agreeing to sex to avoid aggression and threats, talking you into having sex
- digital abuse-secretly reading your texts or emails, demanding that you share your password, deciding who you can be friends with on social media, spreading rumours about you online, posting photos of you, etc.
Abuse can be difficult to recognise. It often starts gradually and intensifies over time. The person that you are with may be kind and caring one moment and critical and threatening the next. Also, at the beginning of a relationship, some signs that can be associated with abuse may be perceived as an expression of profound love.
Signs of an unhealthy relationship
- texting excessively, making you feel like you have to answer quickly
- getting jealous easily, which can be misinterpreted as an expression of love at the beginning of a relationship
- criticising your makeup or the way you dress, talk, or carry yourself
- speaking ill of your friends and family and always wanting to spend time alone with you, isolating you from others
- making you feel sad, frightened, ashamed, humiliated, angry, annoyed, shocked, or like you have done something wrong
- demanding that you do things that you do not want to do to prove your love, such as sharing passwords or agreeing to do sexual acts that you are not comfortable with
- being aggressive/cold one moment and affectionate/caring the next
- calling you childish and immature if you refuse to do something or openly disagree
Abusers are usually good at hiding their abusive behaviour, presenting a charming face to the outside world. As a result, victims of abuse may start to question their own experiences and sometimes even feel guilty about what has happened.
In a healthy relationship, there is mutual respect, and neither side forces the other person to do something against that person’s will.
Abuse is not an expression of love!
And remember that abuse is always the fault of the abuser.
If you are in an unhealthy relationship, do not hesitate to ask for help to leave the relationship.
You are most welcome to contact the Student Health Care to talk about relationships.
There is help available
If you are experiencing or have experienced abuse or are worried about someone else who you think is being abused by someone close to them, you can get help from “Mottagningen för våldsutsatta”, which is a centre for victims of abuse.
To get in touch with the centre, call “Kontaktcenter” at 036-10 50 00.
During evenings and weekends, you can call “Kvinnofridslinjen”, Sweden’s national women’s helpline. Calls are free of charge, and the helpline is open 24/7. Telephone number: 020-50 50 50.
You can also contact “Kvinno- och tjejjouren i Jönköping”, which is a refuge for women and girls.
Their helpline is open Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m. and weekends 10:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
Telephone number: 036-16 36 82.