The Office of National Statistics estimated that 2.4 million people over the age of 16 experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2022. This is a prevalence rate of 1 in 20. In England and Wales, this has seen an increase of 7.7% of incidents of Domestic Abuse being reported to the police in the same period.

Unfortunately, Domestic Abuse is a growing issue in the UK. However, how do you know whether you are in an abusive relationship? Here at Thompson Smith and Puxon we have identified 5 “red flags” you should look out for.

Controlling Behaviour

Controlling behaviour is where one individual dominates the other in an unhealthy, self-serving way. Examples of this could be when your partner/spouse makes you feel intimidated, insecure, or guilty. The most obvious forms of controlling behaviour could be your partner/spouse tries to take control of all aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can and cannot go, who you can see, what to wear and when you can sleep.

Less obvious forms could be simply depriving you of access to support services such as medical facilities or financial support.

Unrealistic Expectations

An abuser may constantly demand that you meet unrealistic expectations – for example, the way you look, dress, behave etc. They will also expect you to meet all their needs, such as emotionally, physically, and sometimes economically, whilst refusing to reciprocate

In a healthy relationship, individuals will grow together, meaning that their expectations have room to change throughout the relationship.

Striking Inanimate Objects

This type of behaviour is very common for abusers. This behaviour can be seen as a punishment, whereby your partner/spouse purposely damages cherished possessions, which is to prevent you from acting a certain way. This is a tactic used to terrorise someone into submission.

You may find your spouse/partner may punch/kick doors, walls, or tables within the house. They may even throw household objects around the house, or even direct the projectile towards you or your immediate surrounding area. Often, despite the display of ‘blind’ rage, the objects being thrown are not considered “valuable” to the abusive party, but often are considered important or necessary to the victim. This type of behaviour alone is abusive, and could further indicate a greater danger of physical harm to the other person, as this shows that they believe they have the “right” to harm you.


Isolation is where your spouse/partner slowly severs all emotional ties, except for the one with them. Typically, isolation is the first indicator that you are in an abusive relationship. Effectively, your spouse/partner limits your support network around you – they will often use the ‘honeymoon period’ of the relationship as a cover, to make this distance feel like a natural consequence of the relationship. Isolation is extremely effective and difficult to detect.

Typical examples of isolation are: your partner/spouse refuses to interact with friends and family; they invent reasons why you should not see family and friends; your partner/spouse checks in on you constantly; your spouse/partner insists on knowing all your passwords for social media accounts, and others.

Jealousy and Possessiveness

Jealousy can be a common emotion within a healthy relationship; however, jealousy is a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust in the relationship. Typical examples of jealousy in an abusive relationship can be your partner/spouse becoming angry at you for simply choosing to speak to someone else in a social setting. In some instances, jealousy can also involve threats of harm, or your partner/spouse becoming physical towards you.

If you believe that you may be in an abusive relationship and wish to speak to one of our Family Solicitors, please get in touch, and we can arrange an appointment to discuss what can be done to help you further.