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#LoveDontFeelBad: What Is Acceptable Behaviour In A Relationship?

23 FebCouple having an argument

In our blog last month we shared news that new legislation had been introduced to combat controlling and coercive behaviour. The new legislation carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, a hefty fine or both. Now, following new research which shows that a significant number of young women experience controlling behaviour in their relationships, Women’s Aid have teamed up with Avon to launch the ‘Love Don’t Feel Bad’ campaign.


The research comes from a survey of 2,000 women aged between 16 and 24. The results showed:

  • More than a third said they had experienced some form of controlling or coercive behaviour from a partner.
  • 1 in 10 people believed that controlling occurs because their partner does not trust them.
  • Only 1 in 3 people said they understood what “coercive control” means.
  • 39% of those questioned considered themselves to be in a controlling relationship.
  • 37% of people only realised they had been in a controlling relationship in hindsight.

The campaign, which was launched to coincide with Valentine’s Day, is designed to get more young people thinking about their relationships and considering what is acceptable behaviour. Following the launch of the new campaign, Women’s Aid Chief Executive, Polly Neate, said:


“Women’s Aid know that many girls are abused in their very first relationships and do not know what a healthy relationship looks like. Coercive control underpins the vast majority of all abusive relationships. We are grateful to Avon for working with us to raise awareness of coercive control and to develop resources for young women, and for their parents and guardians, to make sure that there is relevant information and support available.”


Examples of coercive and controlling behaviour can include:

  • Unreasonable Demands: This can include making threats, being pressurised to do something against your will and physical restraint for failure to do something.
  • Degradation: Any behaviour which is intended to make you feel worthless, including name-calling, bullying behaviour or belittling you in front of friends.
  • Limiting Behaviour: Examples include a restriction on your daily route - forcing you to change the places you visit, restricting who you can and can’t talk or monitoring your time and location.
  • Financial Control: Monitoring your spending, forcing you to live with an ‘allowance’ or restricting access to finance altogether. 
  • Restricted Communication: This can include monitoring your calls, texts and emails, taking away your mobile phone or changing the passwords to your laptop or tablet to limit access. 

If you think you may be in a controlling relationship, our trained team can offer support. Call our 24 hour helpline on 0300 561 0077 for confidential advice.


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