For survivors and those in abusive relationships, Valentine’s Day can be an extremely triggering time – being inundated on social media with images and symbols of love and ‘perfect’ relationships can bring up painful memories and lead people to compare their relationship to others.

No matter if we’re loved-up on the 14th February or not, it’s important that we spare a thought for others. With one in four women believed to experience domestic violence at some point in their lifetime (Refuge, 2021) and much domestic abuse going unnoticed, we need to be vigilant in noticing the signs of abuse (read a guide of the warning signs of domestic abuse here).

Valentine’s Day can also act as a key time for perpetrators of domestic abuse to enforce controlling behaviour such as showering their partners with gifts to pressure them into doing things or to make them feel special and loved. This form of excessive attention and affection has been dubbed ‘love bombing’ (Women’s Aid, 2021) and can often happen as a device of control in the early stages of a relationship.

A US study showed that there is a slight decrease in reports of domestic violence on Valentine’s Day (National Resource Centre on Domestic Violence, 2016), meaning a small reprieve from abuse may make victims believe that it won’t happen again.

These deliberate behaviours are characterised as coercive control which is a strategic form of ongoing oppression used to instil fear (Healthline, 2019), and not a true indicator of love or respect.

Vicky Fitzhugh, Support Worker, Foundation Redcar’s Domestic Abuse Service says:

“Don’t confuse lust with love.

The honeymoon phase of a relationship; wanting to share every moment with each other, in a bubble of love can feel amazing. This can be the beginnings of an unequal and unhealthy relationship. Sometimes in our desire to be loved and to love we gloss over the negatives and the warning signs.

Remember Love shouldn’t hurt, emotionally or physically. It should not take away our choice and independence.

Love should be about caring and building each other up, sharing and giving each other strength and mutual empowerment and respect.”

It’s especially important that a spotlight is shone on domestic abuse in current times, with stark figures from the Home Office Affairs Committee (2020) revealing that domestic abuse significantly increased during the lockdowns.

Inspire North’s media campaign #NoExcuseForAbuse raised awareness of this issue and encouraged the public to show their support for survivors and condemn domestic abuse (read more about the campaign here).

Whether as a result of emotional, physical, sexual, financial or psychological abuse, if you’re feeling scared, vulnerable and at risk and live in the Yorkshire or North East region, please call us on 0113 303 0150

Visit our domestic abuse website:

Alternatively, the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline is 0808 2000 247.