Unhealthy relationships - advice and support for men

Warning signs of an unhealthy relationship can be tricky to spot and not everyone knows where they can get support.

What are the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship?

Some warning signs which could indicate an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Someone telling the other person what they should and shouldn't wear

  • One person making all the decisions

  • Feeling scared to say how you feel

  • Not being able to tell others about your relationship status

  • Not talking to friends/family because you're worried about what your partner might say

  • Feeling pressured to have sex you're not comfortable with

  • A partner threatening to 'out' you if you're not ready to come out

If any of these things sound familiar, carry on reading!​

We spoke to Richard, who helps to support men at Arch North Staffordshire, a charity which helps people in unhealthy relationships in Stoke-on-Trent about unhealthy relationships and local support services available to men.

What kinds of abuse are there?

The 5 main types of abuse are:

Psychological, Physical, Sexual, Financial, Emotional.

However you have to understand the context of Domestic Violence and abuse as it runs much deeper than just types of abuse.

I like to refer to the cross-government definition of Domestic Violence and Abuse.

Which is: any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

Domestic Abuse is all about “Power and Control”, where the abuser could use the above forms of abuse to manipulate and intimidate their partner etc.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is 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.

What is the ARCH support service for men?

Arch provides a Men’s One Stop Shop, (Moss). This is a service dedicating in supporting men who feel that they may be in an unhealthy relationship, or if they are not sure about their relationships and would like a little bit of guidance.

It is a confidential service where men can speak to a professionally trained member of staff and access further support should they wish to. We use a number of assessment tools to help men to understand their situation more thoroughly. It helps to identify what is going on in their relationship and how to stay safe from the risk of further harm occurring to either party.

Moss wants men to know that support is available for them. The service is free, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by accessing support.

What’s going to happen once I’ve told you that I’m in an unhealthy relationship?

If this is the case, you will be made aware of what options are available to you. This could be accessing further support from programmes available at Arch and/or referrals to other services.

The programmes are educational and therapeutic and help men to recognise move forward with their lives and recover from an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

We also run a social group, where you can get involved in community activities.

Together we can put a support and safety plan in place, set targets and work together to achieve a successful outcome. This could include looking at the triggers which lead to arguments and confrontation. The plan could look at strategies in how to manage situations more effectively and safely. What to do in an emergency etc.

Moss wants men to have healthy, happy and safe relationships.

Are the police always involved?

When offering support we make it very clear to customers our confidentially policy. But in a nutshell we would contact the police if a person was in imminent danger of the risk of serious harm occurring to them or were threatening to cause harm to someone else. However these tend to be extreme cases.

What if I’m worried about a friend/family member?

We would be happy to assist you and make you aware of what options are available to you.

How can I get in touch with the Men’s One Stop Shop?

You can either contact us by phone on 01782 222416/421 or email:

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