Being Safe in a Relationship
Domestic Violence and Dating Violence can happen in any relationship, especially in couples who are married, living together or dating. It is important to know the signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship, and to call 911 if you are in immediate danger.
It's okay to know your boundaries and to speak up about what you want and what you don't want.
- Know your limits. How far do you want to go with a date?
- Communicate your limits clearly.
- Back up your words with a strong voice and body language.
- Respect yourself. Know that what you want counts.
Healthy, Unhealthy, and Abusive Relationships
A relationship is healthy if each involved is supported in being the person he or she wants to be. A relationship that limits, manipulates, or damages a person’s sense of self is unhealthy and can be harmful or abusive. Be honest when assessing your relationship on the following factors—you owe it to yourself!
- Mutual respect: Value your partner for who she or he is, not who you want them to be or become, and receiving the same from your partner. Does your partner say, do, and believe things that you can support?
- Trust: Share your thoughts and feelings with another person without fear of being hurt physically, cognitively, or emotionally. Can you be yourself without fear of criticism or judgment? Can your partner trust you in the same way?
- Honesty: Be truthful in your words. Do you tell the truth? Do you believe what your partner tells you?
- Support: Help your partner in being his or her best, and feeling you get the same in return.
- Fairness and equity: You and your partner are giving equally to the relationship. Do you feel like you almost always give, or give in? Or do you expect your partner to do it your way? Healthy relationships involve give and take, compromise, and negotiation—by all parties.
- Separate identities: Relationships are healthy when each individual shares their true self with their partner. Do you feel like you are losing yourself or your unique identity?
- Effective communication: Don’t get caught in the trap of believing your partner should know what you want, need, mean, or feel. Humans are rarely good mind-readers, especially in intimate relationships. Do you and your partner take time to communicate? Does your partner really listen and work to understand you? Do you do this for your partner?
Harmful and abusive behaviors may come in many forms, and may include the following:
- Intimidation: Actions, gestures, or facial expressions used to make another fearful.
- Emotional abuse: Name calling or humiliation causing the other to feel unworthy.
- Isolation: Limiting interactions and information in order to establish control.
- Minimizing, Denying, or Blaming: Making light of the abusive behaviors causing the other to doubt their own feelings or perceptions.
- Dominance: Treating another as a lesser being and controlling all decisions.
- Economic abuse: Limiting another’s access to work, money, food, or other resources to exert control.
- Coercion or Threats: Making threats to harm someone in order to control another’s behaviors.
Healthy Sexual Relationships
Here are some rules for maintaining a healthy sexual relationship:
- It is the responsibility of the person initiating sexual contact to ask for and clearly receive consent before acting.
- If someone is impaired by alcohol or another substance, that person is considered unable to make clear decisions about consent. Initiating sexual contact with someone under the influence is a form of abuse.
- If your partner expresses uncertainty or says no, it is your responsibility to STOP. Healthy sexual relationships are based on continuous communication about consent.