As we head into the holiday season, it is a critical time to focus on understanding healthy relationships. What love is….and what love is not!
What does a healthy relationship mean to you?
As we look back, do you remember being in a new relationship and falling in love? Do you remember the happy feeling of laughing with someone, having fun or sharing your dreams? Did you experience the everlasting trust and genuine kindness? Do you remember the mutual respect and the feelings of being safe in the relationship? Relationships filled with equality, respect and sexual boundaries. Do your relationships include listening to each other during disagreements or differences in opinions? Do you say, “I’m sorry” and truly mean to resolve your conflicts in a non-controlling way?
Love is… compromise, forgiveness, respect, trust, loyalty, caring and happiness. These are just a few words in describing a healthy relationship. It’s important to have an understanding of what love is and what love is not in providing resources to communities and our children about the components of modeling healthy relationships.
There are several warning signs and red flags of an unhealthy relationship:
- If you are in a relationship where someone is attempting to overpower and control you through yelling or physical violence, you are in an unhealthy relationship.
- Being with a partner should not feel like you are trapped and can’t get out. If your partner is telling you what to wear or continues to criticize everything you do, you are in an unhealthy relationship.
- If your partner never listens to you and always wants to make all of the decisions, this is not about love, this is an unhealthy relationship.
- If your partner is always monitoring your text messages or becoming angry over your Facebook postings, this is an unhealthy relationship.
- If your partner forces you to do something you don’t want to do, inflicts pain, or threatens your life, their life or the life of others if you leave them, this is an unhealthy relationship.
- If you have to spend all of your time with your partner and can’t see your friends or family, this is an unhealthy relationship.
- If your partner blames you for things going wrong in his or her life, this is not love.
Love is not about using power and control to dominate someone. There is no excuse if your partner can’t manage their anger or if they use violence or threats. Love is not isolation, pain, abuse, manipulation, controlling, jealous, sexual abuse, fear, threats or blaming.
Healthy relationships will never hurt. Healthy relationships are about being equal. Life and relationships require work and will not always be easy. There will be setbacks and disagreements in your workplace, at home, in school and relationships. During the challenging times, try to be a model to others on how to handle these setbacks by showing love and respect with your partner, family member, friend or co-worker.
Through communication, move forward by making the important decisions together and taking accountability for your actions and behaviors. Seek and reach out to someone you trust if you live in fear or if your relationship is not manageable. Others can help in strengthening your relationships or developing a safety plan to leave your abuser.
Survivor Samantha shares, “I knew my partner was abusive but I thought over time I could change the behavior and it would stop. I thought because we loved each other we could work it out. I didn’t want to leave as I loved this person for the good and the bad times. I didn’t understand that my life was at risk until I barely escaped with my life. I thought the control was because our love was intense and powerful. I realize now that this is not love. As a survivor I am speaking out to say, it’s important to trust your instincts and to listen to yourself as if you don’t you risk losing your life.”
STOP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE—END THE CYCLE. To reduce your risk, to understand what’s happening and to seek safety so you can take back control of your life, YOU NEED TO ACT!
Help is Available:
- Emergencies: Call 911
- 24-Hour Confidential Domestic Violence Help
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
- The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474
- San Diego Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-888-385-4657
Operation for Hope Foundation is hosting a charity softball game to help raise funds for the HOPE Fund and stop domestic violence and abuse. Tickets are available to see Team Poway vs. Team San Diego. Join Mayor Higginson & City Attorney Goldsmith along with several celebrity coaches on Jan. 26, 2013. www.operationforhope.org.