'It helped me leave my marriage.' The Facebook page exposing the red flags in abusive relationships.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of domestic violence.

Every day on the Australian Facebook page MyRedFlags there are infographics, stories of survival and resources shared for millions to see. 

'9 signs you're in a toxic relationship.'

'The gaslighter's script.'

'What it's really like walking on eggshells in an abusive relationship.'

It's one of many Facebook pages and groups helping women look out for one another. And considering in the past fortnight alone we have reportedly lost six women to violence - these safe spaces are desperately needed.

Watch women and violence, the hidden numbers. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

*Lucy, the page's founder, knows what it's like to be in an abusive relationship.

Throughout her earlier years, she experienced a series of domestic violence incidents, seeing how it destroys families - adults and children alike.

"At the time I didn't realise that I was being subjected to abusive behaviours. It wasn't until later when I looked into more of the research and statistics and the psychology behind abuse that it dawned on me. Abuse isn't just physical violence," she tells Mamamia.


"Every day there will be some sort of story in the news related to domestic violence. And you don't have to look far to see the personal stories too - as you get older, more and more friends and family members open up about their experiences of survival."

Appalled by the lack of resources and attention for the widespread issue, Lucy decided five years ago to start a Facebook page called MyRedFlags. She never imagined it would grow into what it is today.

As for what the posts are, they're often infographics or resource notes from reputable advocates and domestic violence organisations. Think 'X red flags to be wary of', 'narcissistic traits', 'what is gaslighting' and more. 

Soon after Lucy began posting regularly, the page began to grow. 

Women were tagging their friends, commenting about their own experiences, and recommending additional support services for anyone stuck in an abusive relationship. The page had quickly transformed into a community of people desperate to stop the cycle. 

"A few posts went super viral in the early days, and the engagement just went up from there," says Lucy. "Some posts reached 18 million reads overnight, and the spotlight on MyRedFlags grew bigger."

Now the page is a group effort - run by a few volunteers, as well as having advocates, survivors, authors, campaigners and experts on the team who are keen to share insights on the early signs of abusive relationships. 175,000 individuals follow MyRedFlags, predominantly Australian women making up that number. And the engagement with many of the posts overall is in the millions. 


But it's the individuals behind those mammoth numbers that resonate most with Lucy. 

Anne is in her late 30s and left a "toxic boyfriend" a few years ago during the pandemic. 

She tells Mamamia that one factor that contributed to her finding the strength to leave that relationship was coming across MyRedFlags.

"I'm part of countless Facebook groups, mainly mothers' groups, and someone had shared a post from MyRedFlags about coercive control. I had only been with my then-boyfriend for about a year, but he was showing signs that weren't very good. After reading and re-reading that post I realised I needed to get out quick smart," she explains.

"I broke up with him not just for the sake of my own wellbeing, but also for my kids. Fortunately, I was able to cut that relationship off safely before we moved in together. I hadn't really heard much about coercive control or understood it up until that point."

Another woman, Sue, left her marriage decades ago. 

She knew something wasn't right in the relationship, explaining to Mamamia: "He would always put me down, and make me feel so small."

Image: Posts like this helped Anne and Sue realise they had been in abusive relationships. Image: Facebook.


Working up the courage to leave was difficult, harrowing even. But years on, she knows it was the right decision and now she is in a far happier partnership. It wasn't until a few years ago that she was able to put words around what she had endured at the hands of her first husband. She had been a victim-survivor of emotional abuse. 

"A friend of mine came across this Facebook page called MyRedFlags and she sent me an infographic or two from there. I just scrolled and scrolled, and it struck a nerve with me. There were phrases like 'gaslighting' and 'emotional abuse', things I hadn't really heard before," says Sue. 


"Soon it kind of dawned on me, that what he had put me through - it was not only not okay, but actually abusive behaviour."

Lucy has heard countless testimonials like these, both via the page's DMs, but also in person.

"I was at a birthday party event for a friend and got chatting to another woman I didn't know. She had recently separated and shared that she too had experienced domestic violence.

"I asked what resources had helped and she said: 'I follow this page called MyRedFlags. It really opened my eyes to the depth and pathology of abusers, and gave me insights and knowledge to help me shift my mindset and safely leave the marriage.' I had goosebumps."

Lucy told the woman it was her who had started the page. It was a highlight moment and one that still makes Lucy emotional whenever she speaks about it. 

Seeing the engagement among fans of the page, and the support and encouragement women give one another is the best reward for the effort, she says. Because knowledge is power.

Dr Ashleigh Moreland is the Founder and Director of the RE-MIND Institute, which offers personal development and mental health support services for clients, including those looking to overcome trauma. She is also an ambassador for MyRedFlags.

Although we are getting better as a nation at having these necessary conversations, the epidemic of violence against women is still dire, Dr Moreland tells Mamamia


"In my work, I have a unique perspective of working with both victims of abuse and abusers themselves. Although abusive or violent behaviours are NEVER okay - and we absolutely must work to support and empower victims - there is so much potential moving forward in finding innovative ways to reach abusers and equipping them with the tools to heal and rehabilitate," she notes. 

"Prevention is always better. It's a collective responsibility to create a world where no one has to live in fear of domestic violence, and that requires ongoing commitment, empathy and compassion from all of us."

For Lucy, she hopes to keep MyRedFlags running for many years to come.

"Keeping each other informed about the early warning signs is so important, and we can help change attitudes. Seeing women connect with one another is so meaningful. And to see survivors tell one another, 'You will thrive beyond the abuse, and you deserve better' is powerful."

To see more from MyRedFlags, visit here

*Lucy has chosen to keep her name anonymous for privacy reasons. Her identity is known to Mamamia.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature Image: Facebook.