Although no two relationships are ever the same, and everybody’s experience is different, abusive relationships are often characterised by very similar red flags.  

Due to the insidious nature of domestic abuse, victims often don’t realise how toxic their relationship is – especially when there’s more than one type of abusive behaviour at play. In this week’s blog, we’re taking a look at four different types of toxic relationships and their warning signs, keep reading to learn more. 

Love bombing

Charm, adoration and being made to feel as though you’re the centre of your partner’s world, love bombing occurs when you’re showered with displays of affection and admiration in an attempt to influence you and how you live your life. The ultimate aim? For your partner to achieve their own goals and objectives when it comes to exerting control. 

Love bombing usually takes place in the very early days of meeting someone new, and can consist of excessive compliments, grand gestures and fast-paced commitments, as well as a lack of boundaries that may well become oppressive down the line. Because the relationship is fresh and exciting, it may not feel problematic at first, and can make you feel very special. However, make no mistake, love bombing is often the precursor to other toxic behaviours, such as manipulation, gaslighting and coercive control.

Coercive control

The government defines coercive behaviour as “an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim”.

If you’re the victim of coercive control, it can be very difficult to recognise that there’s something wrong within your relationship. You may notice that your mental health begins to suffer as a result of the controlling behaviour you’re experiencing, with your self worth being severely negatively affected. You may also start to notice that you’re becoming isolated from your family and friends.


Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse, occurring when a person makes someone question their state of mind or memories. If this is happening to you, it’s likely accompanied by feelings of intense anxiety, isolation and confusion, along with an inability to trust yourself and your actions. 

With manipulation at its core, gaslighting takes so many different forms. From undermining your rights and opinions with trivialising statements, to spreading lies about you in order to isolate you from others, the impacts of gaslighting cannot be understated.


Stonewalling, also known as ‘the silent treatment’, is a type of emotional abuse that’s characterised by a refusal to communicate and deliberately shutting down communication. Ignoring or refusing to respond during important discussions or disagreements,  bottling up resentment or walking away from important issues that need resolving – these are all red flags. 

Stonewalling is also a type of punishment. If you do find the strength to call out the abusive behaviour you’re experiencing, your partner may use stonewalling to punish you for standing up for yourself. It can be emotionally exhausting, with the temptation to  put up with such toxic behaviour being very strong simply as a way to make it stop. 

If any of these behaviours and warning signs are resonating with you, you’re not alone. At Harrogate Family Law, our team has a wealth of experience when it comes to navigating tricky divorce proceedings or toxic relationships. If you’re in need of some expert legal advice, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team.