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Is this love? A teenager’s experience of domestic abuse

A teenager from the South West has spoken of her experience of an abusive relationship.

Maddie* was just 17 when she experienced physical, emotional and verbal abuse from her boyfriend, also aged 17.

During the relationship, Maddie was beaten on a number of occasions, strangled, threatened with a knife, as well as verbally abused and criticised.

It wasn’t long into the relationship when Maddie’s boyfriend started to become abusive.

“He hit me, he would call me names, put me down and talk about my weight.

“He tried to isolate me from my friends and didn’t like me talking to other guys.

“I thought I loved him. But when I looked back, I was in love with the idea of companionship and having a relationship.”

Maddie reported her experiences to the police, and is currently being investigated.

“The scars can heal, wounds heal, but the verbal abuse really gets into your head. It’s always going to be there at the back of your mind.”

Maddie is now getting on with her life and looking forward to a bright future, and has applied to university.

Maddie has been supported through Safer Futures – delivered by Barnardo’s and First Light. She attends a Recovery Toolkit programme for young adults to support them to be resilient and future relationships and spot the warning signs early.

She says: “You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is support here for you and people to listen to.”

7 signs that your relationship might be abusive, according to Maddie:

  1. If they are trying to control what you wear
  2. If they are trying to control who you see
  3. If they are trying to get into your phone while you are asleep
  4. If they are looking over your shoulder, checking who you are talking to on your phone
  5. If they criticise you a lot
  6. If they don’t let you express your opinions
  7. If they rush into telling you they love you. Sometimes this can be a way to win you over or control you.

*Maddie’s name has been changed to protect her identity.