Recognising partner abuse

Posted 1 week ago

Could you be experiencing abuse without realising it?

Partner abuse is a frighteningly common issue, and university campuses are sadly not immune. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognise the signs of domestic abuse because popular culture often depicts it solely as overt physical violence. The truth is, partner abuse comes in many forms, and it’s vital to understand what to look out for.

What Partner Abuse Isn’t

  • Just fighting: It’s perfectly normal for couples to have disagreements or even heated arguments. Partner abuse isn’t about the occasional raised voice, but about a pattern of control.
  • A one-time thing: Abuse is a repetitive behaviour. Isolated incidents, while potentially harmful, don’t necessarily fall under the category of partner abuse.
  • Always physical: Physical abuse is one form, but it’s not the only one. Partner abuse can be emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial.

The Red Flags You Might Be Missing

  • Control: Does your partner try to control where you go, who you see, or how you spend your money? Do they track your phone or social media activity?
  • Isolation: Do they try to limit your contact with your friends and family? Do they make you feel guilty when you spend time with others?
  • Criticism and Put-downs: Do they constantly belittle you, making you question your looks, your intelligence, or your worth?
  • Threats: Whether subtle or overt, threats of any kind – physical harm, withholding finances, damaging your reputation – are forms of abuse.
  • Jealousy and Blaming: Do they get unreasonably jealous? Do they constantly blame their problems or their actions on you?
  • Gaslighting: This is a dangerous tactic where your partner distorts reality to make you question your own sanity and perceptions.

Why is This Important for Students?

University life is a time of transition, making students particularly vulnerable. You might be living away from your support network for the first time, experimenting with relationships, or under intense academic pressure. Abusers can exploit these vulnerabilities, making it easy to miss the warning signs.

Partner Abuse is NEVER Your Fault

No matter what justifications your partner offers, abuse is never your fault. If you think you might be in an abusive situation, don’t dismiss your feelings. It can be difficult to acknowledge, but doing so is the first step toward getting the support you deserve.

Where to Turn for Help:

  • Speak to a trusted friend or family member. Reaching out can be terrifying, but having someone you trust can provide invaluable support.
  • Talk to your Warden. If you live in our Intercollegiate Halls, you can discuss anything concerns with your Hall Warden in confidence. They will be able to advise you about further sources of help and guidance. And if the abuse is happening within the Intercollegiate Halls, then your Warden will be able to take direct action (with your agreement).
  • Contact your university support services. Most universities with students living in our Intercollegiate Halls have wellbeing services, counsellors, or advisors specifically trained to assist in partner abuse situations.
  • National hotlines: Here are a few resources that offer help in the UK:
  • Refuge (for women and children): 0808 2000 247 
  • Respect Men’s Advice Line: 0808 802 4040

Remember: You are not alone. Help is available, and you deserve to be in a safe and healthy relationship.