Healthy relationships are all about respecting each other. You should feel loved, safe and free to be yourself.
Relationships can be confusing and it can be difficult to understand what is and isn’t normal behaviour.
But disrespectful and unacceptable behaviour can come in many forms. It isn’t limited to just physical behaviour; it can also go way beyond that. For example, it’s not OK for someone to try and pressure you into sending a nude pic, or to expect the same things to happen that they’ve seen in a porn film. If someone makes you do something you don’t want to, makes you feel scared, intimidated or tries controlling you, it’s not acceptable and is never OK.
Luke*, aged 16, was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship with his boyfriend.
When I was 16, I was sexually assaulted by a family friend. He gave me loads of alcohol and I got really drunk. I was too embarrassed to tell anyone and he told me that no-one would believe me. I started to drink and take drugs to try to get it out of my head.
Soon after I came out and I started going out to gay clubs. I met my first boyfriend when I was 17. He was 25. He was really popular, fun and good looking. I really liked him, although there were things about the relationship that were hard. At the beginning, I had sex with him because I thought it was what I should do as his boyfriend. I was scared of losing him if I didn’t. I didn’t tell him about the sexual assault or that I found having sex difficult.
When I turned 18, I moved into his flat and things started to change. He didn’t like me going out without him. He said he didn’t like my friends and gradually I lost contact with people. He started to restrict the time I spent with my family too. He said he didn’t want me to work and that he wanted to look after me. He started to look through my phone to check up on where I was and who I was with. I was dependent on him for money and I became increasingly cut off from other people.
Arguments became more regular, often become physical. He would slap me, push me, hold me down and throw things at me. I started to make excuses to avoid having sex with him and for a while, he didn’t question it. But eventually he started asking questions. During an argument, I told him I was assaulted when I was younger. He said he could understand why I was raped and that it sounded like I led the guy on. He started pressuring me into having sex and would threaten me if I refused. I had sex with him to keep the peace, even though I didn’t want to. I didn’t tell anyone and pretended everything was fine. He said that it was normal for men to fight when they are together. He was my first boyfriend and I didn’t know any different. Things got worse and worse between us. After one argument, I tried to leave the flat to get away from him. He locked me in, beat me up and threatened me with a hammer – forcing me to have sex with him.
Afterwards he blamed me, saying that I was a tease and that he was entitled to have sex with me whenever he wanted to. I escaped from the flat when he was asleep and called the police. They said that what I was experiencing was domestic abuse and put me in touch with organisations that could help me. I thought that it was only women who could experience domestic abuse from their partner. I didn’t realise it could happen to men too.
* Names have been changed to protect the individuals involved. Story from Survivors UK & Galop
The Galop National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Domestic Abuse Helpline: Provides confidential and specialist telephone and email support for all members of LGBT communities, their family, friends and agencies supporting them who have experienced issues with domestic violence and abuse. Domestic abuse can be psychological, financial, sexual, physical and/or emotional. Need support? We’re here to help.
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