Unhealthy, Toxic or Abusive Relationships

Signs | Consent & Sexual Violence | Your Right to Safe Schools | Sexual GroomingGet Help

An unhealthy, toxic or abusive relationship consists of a pattern of behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner, which tends to escalate over time. Whether the violence is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, financial, stalking or harassing, it is all abuse and unacceptable in any situation, at any age.


An unhealthy, toxic and/or abusive relationship is when one partner has power and control over the other, and it happens to people of all ages, backgrounds, sexes, and genders. 

If your partner…..

  • harms you physically in any way
  • threatens harm 
  • tries to force you into any type of sexual act 
  • tries to control parts of your life, like how you dress, who you hang out with, and what you say
  • often shames you or makes you feel unworthy
  • twists the truth to make you feel you are to blame for their actions (gaslighting)
  • demands to know where you are at all times
  • often acts jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends
  • makes mean or rude comments on social media
  • demands access to your phone or your social media accounts

…consider it a warning sign and seek help from a counselor, trusted adult or someone at a helpline. Some helplines are listed below. Everyone deserves healthy relationships.

Consent & Sexual Violence

Sexual consent is when you and your sexual partner both agree to have sex or engage in any kind of sexual activity. Everyone involved in sexual activity should feel comfortable and safe at all times.

You ALWAYS have the final say when it comes to YOUR body.

Sexual violence is not just rape. It includes many forms of unwanted sexual attention, including physical contact and harassment. Most survivors of sexual violence were harmed by someone they knew. Roughly 1 in 3 victims of sexual assault experienced their first assault between the ages of 11-17, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, please seek help from a trusted adult and/or community-based organization serving survivors. Some of those organizations are listed below.

There is consent only when the consent is FRIES from both partners – Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic, and Specific.

Source: Planned Parenthood

Learn more:

Your Right to Safe Schools

Everyone has the right to SAFE SCHOOLS regardless of gender. Remember that sexual violence is not just rape. It includes many forms of unwanted sexual attention, including physical contact and harassment.

If you have experienced any kind of sexual violence at school, you can (and should) report it to your school leaders (according to Title IX – prounounced Title Nine – of the Educational Amendments of 1972). Every school/district must have a Title IX coordinator who can support any report of sexual harassment or misconduct.

Title IX gives survivors of sexual violence at any public school the legal right to ask for and receive “supportive measures” from their school after they have suffered sexual violence. These supportive measures may include no-contact orders, schedule changes or assignment extensions, along with others that may be helpful for a survivor. Learn more about Title IX and your rights at school at knowyourix.org.

Sexual Grooming

Sexual grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a person in order to manipulate and exploit them for sexual purposes. Often groomers seek out victims they can easily have power over – children or other vulnerable individuals.

They may provide gifts or make promises to the victim about the future, money or safety, which can result in a false sense of trust or cause the victim to rely on the groomer too much for a job, money or a feeling of safety. The groomer might gain the victim’s trust gradually, making them feel special or cared for, with the ultimate goal of engaging in sexual activity or abuse. It’s a form of manipulation and exploitation that can have serious and harmful consequences for the victim, both physical and psychological.

If you or someone you know has experienced grooming, please seek help from a trusted adult and/or community-based organization serving survivors. Some of those organizations are listed below.


To learn more about how abusive behavior can include the use of social media, phones and other devices, please see the section on Relationships & Technology.

Get Help

Get Help in Rhode Island:
In an emergency, please call 911

Rhode Island 24-hour Helpline:


Get Help Outside of Rhode Island:
In an emergency, please call 911

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:
Dial 988

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Quick Exit
Link copied