ACM’s Designated Safeguarding Lead

The Unhealthy Relationship

We all have an idea as to what a healthy relationship looks like, but where did we get this from?

  • Parents
  • Friends
  • Media
  • Books / Online
  • School Education

Our early experiences of relationships will have an impact on how we approach them in the future. There are many contributing factors that cause a distorted view of what a relationship should look like and what a specific person’s role should be.

If someone has had a negative experience of relationships when growing up this can sometimes fall into a category known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s). These are stressful events occurring in childhood that can cause a long term effect on how we manage our emotions, relationships and social interactions in later life.

Experiences could include:

  • Witnessing domestic violence
  • Experiencing parental separation or divorce
  • Supporting a parent with a mental health condition
  • Being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional)
  • Being the victim of neglect (physical and emotional)
  • Having a member of the household serving time in prison
  • Growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and/or drug use problems.

Other contributing factors of a distorted view of a healthy relationship could be:

  • The media
  • Porn
  • Unhealthy friendships
  • Cultural experiences
  • Gender biased environments

It is worth noting that these experiences don’t directly cause someone to be abusive or make them poor relationship material. However, in most cases of negative behaviours within a relationship, there could be a direct link to the experiences stated above.


Luka by Suzanne Vega

If you hear something late at night

Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight

Just don’t ask me what it was


Inherently humans are selfish creatures, we are not perfect and so make mistakes. 

However, there is NO excuse for being abusive. 

Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of: 

  • Age
  • Background
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Sexuality 

or 

  • Ethnicity

Abuse within a relationship is commonly known as Domestic Abuse. This is not just perpetrated by one specific gender; both men and women, as well as people of other gender identities, can either be the perpetrator or the victim. However, statistically, most domestic abuse is carried out by men and experienced by women. 

Spotting the signs

  • Is your partner jealous and possessive?
  • Are they caring one minute and abusive the next?
  • Do they constantly put you down?
  • Do they pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
  • Do they play mind games and make you doubt your judgment?
  • Do they control your finances?
  • Do they tell you what to wear, where to go, who to see?
  • Are you scared of making them angry?
  • Do they monitor or track your movements or messages?
  • Do they use violence and intimidation to control you?

In most abusive relationships, trying to place boundaries, encourage honest communication, trust, and other necessary healthy relationship behaviours can put someone’s safety at risk. 

Abuse is about power and control and someone who is abusive might not want to give up their control over you.

This is not normal and not ok.


Because of You by Kelly Clarkson

I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt

Because of you

I find it hard to trust not only me but everyone around me

Because of you

I am afraid


If you are a victim of an abusive relationship, remember:

  • You are not to blame
  • You are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behaviour.
  • You deserve to be treated with respect.
  • You deserve a safe and happy life.
  • You are not alone. 

*If you are worried about your circumstances where finance, property and children are involved I encourage you to seek support, either from family and friends or from a professional organisation or charity. 

If you feel at any point that you’re in danger, contact the emergency services straight away. There are many resources available for victims of abuse, including crisis hotlines, shelters,  legal services, and childcare. 

There are members of the Safeguarding team who have experience of handling such situations, their contact details can be found below.


Female Victims of Domestic AbuseRefuge 

  • 0808 2000 247
  • www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk

Male Victims of Domestic Abuse Mankind Initiative

  • 01823 334244
  • www.mankind.org.uk

If you would like support with anything mentioned within this article please contact studentsupport@acm.ac.uk, alternatively, you can find out more information on our Student Services Canvas page.

If you have a concern for your wellbeing or that of someone else associated with ACM, please contact the safeguarding team:
Email – dsl@acm.ac.uk
Call – 01483 910197


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