valentine

This Valentine’s Day, Love Yourself

valentineValentine’s Day can evoke different feelings for different people. Some revel in the candy hearts, the flowers, the candlelit dinners. Others are painfully reminded of past relationships, or feel left out if they’re not currently in a relationship. Still others are completely indifferent to what they refer to as a “made up” holiday.

Whatever your feelings on Valentine’s Day, this year we encourage you to use it as an opportunity to remind yourself that you deserve to be loved not only by other people, but by you. Maybe that sounds cheesy, but loving yourself can lay a foundation for stronger, healthier relationships with others. That begins with accepting yourself for who you are right now in your life.

It also means taking good care of yourself. At The Hotline, we talk with many callers and chatters about self-care. Caring for yourself is vitally important, but many of us neglect ourselves for a variety of reasons. This Valentine’s Day, consider doing something kind for yourself, even if it’s small. That could mean cooking a healthy meal, reading a good book, taking a class you’re interested in, or just sitting quietly for a few minutes. Self-care is about what works best for you. Need inspiration? Check out our self-care Pinterest board.

If you have experienced abuse, loving and caring for yourself might mean seeking support through counseling or support groups. Learn more about finding the right counselor for you, or speak with one of our advocates who can locate a counselor or support group in your area.

If you are currently in an abusive relationship or have previously been in one, it may help to create an emotional safety plan. This can be a very important way to care for yourself on your journey to safety. A Hotline advocate can help you create your own unique safety plan, so call or chat with us today if you need assistance.

Regardless of your situation, you deserve to be cared for, and you have the power to be your own caregiver. There are tons of ways to practice self-care, and sometimes it only takes a few minutes of your day to make a big difference in your life. We asked our friends on social media about their favorite self-care activities and received so many great responses! Here are just a few, but if you want to read more check out the original Facebook post:

“Baking yummy goodies and decorating them with my daughter’s help. Best part is eating them once we’re done”Gina

“Making sure I see my dv therapist every week and stay real and honest and open.”Gabe

“Although I don’t get to as often as I would like – I enjoy sharing my story of surviving with others. Every time I speak to a group I get another piece of ‘me’ back!”Marie

“Reading in my most comfy pajamas!” – Erin

“Sometimes, after the children are in bed, I climb underneath my down comforters with a cup of hot tea and cry. I maintain strength and courage for my family and friends but, in private, I allow myself to grieve, rejoice, solidify my resolve, and recite self-love, kindness, and understanding, releasing the angst and filling with love. Loving myself is my act of self-care.”Alice

“Walking, hiking, working in the garden, massage, hot bubble bath, quiet time and reading. All are necessary as I’m a single mom of two boys, it’s so important to make time for self care.”Kathleen

“[Being] mindful of the way in which I talk to myself. And bubble baths.”Gabriella

“Making sure I have quiet time everyday, which I need.”Grzenia

“Petting a puppy”John

“Volunteer, write poems and pray”Angela

“Singing my little heart out, as loud as I want, to whatever I feel like! There’s no better therapy for me!”Tamsin

“Yoga and crocheting and the occasional pedicure!”Katie

 

What’s your favorite self-care activity? Let us know in the comments!

self-care

The Importance of Self-Care

self-careSelf-care is a simple concept, yet for many of us, it can be incredibly difficult in practice. It is especially challenging for victims and survivors of abuse, who are often made to feel like they are not worthy of love or care. But the truth is that everyone deserves to be cared for, and we all have the power to be our own caregivers. That’s what self-care is all about; taking care of yourself in ways that feel best to you, focus on your own health and well-being, and bring you comfort.

If you have experienced abuse in your life, self-care may seem like a foreign concept, exhausting, or pointless to consider. You might be questioning how it could be of any use to you, which is totally understandable. It helps to remember that self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent; it’s simply one tool you can turn to when coping with or healing from an abusive relationship. At first, doing self-care might not feel “normal” to you, and that’s okay. Start by making small, gradual changes and focus on being gentle with yourself.

Making sure basic needs are met is the foundation of self-care. Do you get adequate sleep? Do you eat regular meals? Is physical activity part of your daily life? For some people, meeting these basic needs might not be possible all at once, so it might be helpful to focus on one at a time. Others may choose to make a list to remind themselves to meet at least one basic need or do one self-care activity daily. There is no wrong way to do self-care; think about what feels right for you and your situation.

If you’ve got the hang of meeting basic needs, try brainstorming other activities that you might enjoy doing, or that you once enjoyed but haven’t done in a while. We often recommend keeping a personal journal of thoughts as a form of self-care, but only if you’re in a safe place or your abusive partner won’t have access to it. However, if journaling doesn’t appeal to you there are plenty of other options. Here are just a few examples: reading a book, taking a walk, drinking a cup of tea, knitting, drawing, painting, cycling, swimming, watching a funny movie, taking a bath, talking to a friend, baking, taking three deep breaths, praying, meditating, volunteering, taking photos, playing a videogame, playing or cuddling with a pet, attending a support group or counseling session, stretching, listening to your favorite song, dancing, singing, daydreaming – all of these things count as self-care, and some of them don’t take more than a few minutes. What matters is finding what works for you.

Do you have additional suggestions, or are there particular self-care activities that work for you? Leave a comment! Also, check out our (growing) self-care board on Pinterest.

If you need help incorporating self-care into your life, our advocates are here for you. Give us a call at 1-800-799-7233, or chat online every day, 7am-2am CT.

valentines-day

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Hotline!

valentines-dayValentine’s Day is about expressing love and appreciation for the important people in your life – whether it’s your spouse, romantic partner, or a special friend. Here at the hotline, we strongly believe in the work we do with people who are hurting because of unhealthy and/or abusive relationships, but we want to celebrate healthy relationships, too.

This Valentine’s Day, take a moment to reflect on the people you love and how you can contribute to keeping your relationships healthy. Here are a few things to consider:

Love yourself. Sometimes this is the hardest part of a relationship – loving and accepting yourself for who you are. It’s just as important to take care of yourself emotionally, mentally and physically as it is to care for your partner. Don’t forget to make yourself a priority so that you can be your best self for your loved ones.

Communicate. Talk to your partner about your feelings and needs, and give them space to talk about theirs. Listen to what they are really saying; are they upset because you didn’t notice they did the laundry, or because you left your dirty dishes in the sink? Maybe they’re really trying to tell you that they don’t feel appreciated. Make the effort to talk and listen to your partner every day.

Trust. This is a key part of every relationship. Trust your partner fully, and always be each other’s biggest champion. If you don’t trust your partner and vice versa, there could be potential to slide into an unhealthy relationship. Talk through any trust issues and explore ways to be faithful, reliable, and secure with your partner.

Today, please join with the team at loveisrespect.org, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, to promote healthy relationships with the National Respect Announcement. Post this announcement to your social media accounts and let the world know that everyone deserves healthy relationships!

This Valentine’s Day, we’d like to remind you that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. If you or someone you know has a question about a relationship, healthy or unhealthy, visit loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522.

Remember, love has many definitions, but abuse isn’t one of them.

You can also call the hotline anytime, day or night, at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat online with us Monday through Friday, 9am-7pm CST. Our advocates are here for you.

We wish you a safe and happy Valentine’s Day!

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I See DV as the Outcome of Economic, Social & Political Inequality

Money issues can limit a survivor’s ability to move past abuse. Sara Shoener, Research Director at the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice and our guest blogger, works to educate survivors on ways to recover financially from domestic violence. Today she shares her perspective on how abuse, money and freedom intersect.

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Please tell us about the work that you do.

I am the Research Director for the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice, which is a national organization dedicated to enhancing advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. We bring together experts to provide training to advocates and attorneys, to organize communities and to offer leadership on addressing the critical issues domestic violence survivors are currently facing across the country.

Right now we are focusing on our Consumer Rights for Domestic Violence Survivors Initiative, where we are working with a group of inspiring consumer rights, anti-poverty, and domestic violence attorneys and advocates to develop some really ground-breaking projects, training, and written resources that focus on domestic violence survivors’ physical and economic security.

How do domestic violence and finances intersect?

Economic hardship and domestic violence exacerbate one another. Research shows that women living in poverty experience domestic violence at twice the rates of those who do not. Domestic violence increases financial insecurity, and in turn, poverty heightens one’s vulnerability to domestic violence. Batterers’ acts of sabotage and control can create economic instability that last long after the abuse has ended.

Domestic violence has been linked to a range of negative economic outcomes such as housing instability, fewer days of employment, job loss and difficulty finding employment. Correspondingly, poverty limits one’s options for achieving long-term safety.

Domestic violence survivors often rank material factors such as income, housing, transportation, and childcare as their biggest considerations when assessing their safety plans. Given the relationship between finances and domestic violence, it’s not surprising that research has often reported income to be one of (if not the) biggest predictors of domestic violence.

What does economic abuse look like?

It can look like a lot of things, but is generally thought of as batterers’ tactics to control their partners or ex-partners by restricting or sabotaging their access to material resources. Something we hear about a lot is abusers putting survivors’ names on bills or taking credit cards out in survivors’ names to drive them into debt and ruin their credit.

Employment sabotage, such as hiding a survivor’s car keys on the day of a job interview or stalking her or him at work, is also economic abuse. Batterers use institutions survivors often navigate to bolster their economic abuse, too. For example, an abuser might use the custody court system to require the mother of his children not to move out of the area, arguing that if she leaves he will not be able to see his children as easily.

Survivors who have received orders like this have been forced to give up economic opportunities in other places such as better jobs, affordable education, and rent sharing with family members. Other batterers continually file protection orders against their partners and ex-partners in order to force them to miss school or work to be present in court.

Domestic violence can create economic damage that endures long after an abusive relationship is over, too. Survivors often face damage to their credit reports, social networks, bodies, mental wellbeing and professional reputations that generate persistent economic loss. These negative economic impacts restrict survivor’s options and as increase their vulnerability to future harm.

What interested you in this work? 

The short answer is that I recently spent many months on a research project where I had the opportunity to meet domestic violence survivors from different communities and interview them about their experiences seeking safety through institutions such as the court system, public housing and law enforcement.

What I heard from all types of people in all types of places was that they didn’t have the economic stability necessary to end the abuse they were experiencing. Sometimes that included huge ongoing expenses such as affording rent on one’s own. Other costs were more of a one-shot-deal, such as having to take time off work to go to court for a protection order.

The beginning of the longer answer is that the domestic violence survivors I have met are some of the strongest, smartest, kindest and most resilient people I will ever be lucky enough to know. Yet, they often face institutional barriers to safety rooted in social factors such as race, class and gender. Because of that, I find this work especially important and meaningful.

Please complete this sentence. I see DV ___________.

I see domestic violence as the outcome of economic, social, and political inequality.

About Our Contributor

Sara Shoener is the Research Director at the Center for Survivor Agency and Justice. She has been advocating for and conducting research on effective approaches to reduce violence against women for over 10 years. Sara’s love of qualitative research stems from the opportunity it grants to listen to and learn from women’s narratives. As a result, she has conducted numerous focus groups, surveys, needs assessments, program evaluations and in-depth interviews related to anti-violence projects. A Truman Scholar and American Association of University Women Dissertation Fellow, Ms. Shoener is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, where she also obtained her MPH.

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I See DV As An Issue That Can Be Resolved If We Can Come Together

Today we’re very excited to have Denver Broncos Chris Harris, Jr. share his perspective on domestic violence and discuss how men and athletes can promote healthy relationships.

dvam-chris-harrisWhat motivated you to speak out against domestic violence?

Domestic violence is an issue that affects everyone whether they know it or not. When you look at the statistics that approximately 1 in 4 women are affected, you know that all of us probably have at least one friend or family member being affected. In the past I think people have viewed domestic violence as a ‘women’s issue’ but I feel it is important for male role models to speak out and set a good example.

How do you define a healthy relationship for yourself?

I think in a healthy relationship there has to be love, support, respect and equality. If any of those aspects are missing you end up having a relationship that just doesn’t really work. Even though two people bring different things to a relationship, you have to respect the other person and realize that what they are bringing is equally important as what you are bringing.

Through your career, the Chris Harris Foundation and your work with Big Brothers Big Sisters, you’ve been such a role model to young boys. What do you hope to teach them about relationships?

I just think it is important for young men and boys to realize that relationships are a two-way street. If they are going to be involved with a woman, they should be bringing out the best in that person and vice versa. Relationships require give and take, so I want young men to realize that and be responsible for the roles they play in relationships. But all of this really comes back to respecting the person they are with and being a source of strength rather than an obstacle.

You’ve faced many challenges in your career. You were an undrafted free agent who worked his way to being named Denver’s Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year in 2011. To accomplish this, you must have had a very strong mental game. How do you mentally overcome a bad, or “off” day? 

I just try to stay focused on the positive. Whatever happens happens and nothing can really be gained from dwelling on the past. Obviously we all want to learn from our mistakes, but ultimately we have to stay focused on the challenges that lay ahead. I’ve been very blessed with the talents that I have, so at the end of the day I can be confident that those talents will carry me through even if I have a bad day.

An article once described you and your wife, Leah, as a “packaged deal.” What are some ways the two of you support each other? 

We really are a team in every sense of the word. She is my biggest fan and supports me before and after every game with motivation, love and support. She also handles a lot of business that I am unable to handle due to my busy schedule during the season. She is also starting her own business right now so I am doing all that I can to support that via promoting it with social media and being someone she can talk to about any issues she is facing. Everyone can check out her work at MyTimelessImpression.com.

You were recently the spokesperson for the Domestic Violence Intervention Services program located in your hometown of Tulsa. What did you learn about domestic violence through that experience?

I learned a lot about the statistics of domestic violence and just how big of a problem it is. That experience also really helped me to think about what my role could be in stopping the problem. So much of the domestic violence is caused by attitudes ingrained in children at a young age. I think that if me and other male role models take a stand and teach kids a new way of thinking, we can make progress.

We know that men holding other men accountable for their actions and words makes a difference in promoting a culture of healthy relationships. How do you encourage your friends and teammates to be healthy in their dating behaviors? 

I think the most important thing is just not to be the silent bystander. There are certain issues in our culture that if someone brings it up people are going to tell them they are wrong to think that way. Unfortunately the proper way to treat women or to participate in relationships has not always been one of those issues. We just have to change our thinking about that and make sure that if someone says something that is unacceptable that we call it out and hopefully they won’t be comfortable making those kinds of comments again.

Please finish this sentence. “I see domestic violence ______________________. 

I see domestic violence as an issue that can be resolved if we can come together and change the way people think about it.

About Our Contributor

Denver Broncos Chris Harris, Jr. knows how to make an impact. A third-year cornerback, Harris has played 31 regular-season games in his first two NFL campaigns. While he began his professional career as an undrafted free agent, he finished his rookie season with glowing stats and was voted Denver’s All-Rookie Team, Breakout Player of the Year and Overachiever of the Year. Harris completed the 2012 season ranked 5th in the NFL in receiving yards allowed and holds the record for the longest interception return in Broncos history.

In addition to his on-the-field activities, Harris’ passions extend to helping others experience the same mentorship and opportunity he had growing up. In 2013, he launched the Chris Harris Jr. Foundation to support children of military families. Harris launched a Student Success Challenge, encouraging kids to get involved in school, fitness, community service and more. Harris also participates in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and helps with program initiatives and mentoring children.

 

what is consent

What Is Healthy Consent? What ISN’T Consent?

Consent. This one word draws a line between acceptable and unacceptable sexual behaviors. This one word helps define whether an experience was sexual assault or not. Was the action wanted? Was the act agreed upon by both people?

For as important as consent is, we don’t talk about it enough. In the wake of so many high coverage media cases of sexual assault in which much of the coverage shifted the blame to the victims who were somehow “asking for it” or “didn’t say no,” it’s important to reevaluate what consent is and how we can give it or withhold it. It’s also essential that we understand what it looks like when our partners give — or don’t give — consent.


First, we need to change how we think about consent. The old idea of “no means no” is not a good approach. It puts the responsibility on one person to resist or accept, and makes consent about what a partner doesn’t want, instead of what they do want.

Consent can be sexy. It can be a moment for both partners to openly express to each other what they’re looking for and what they do want to experience. The saying “yes means yes” can be empowering and useful in thinking about what consent is.

Consent is ongoing. Both partners should keep giving, and looking for, consent. Just because you’ve given consent to an act before, doesn’t mean it becomes a “given” every time. This idea also relates to new relationships — just because you’ve given consent to something in a different relationship doesn’t make it “automatic” in a new relationship.

Consent is not a free pass. Saying yes to one act doesn’t mean you have to consent to other acts. Each requires its own consent. EX: Saying yes to oral sex doesn’t automatically mean you’re saying yes to intercourse.

Your relationship status does not make consent automatic. If you’re married to someone, friends with someone, or dating someone, it doesn’t mean they ‘own’ your consent by default. Or that you own theirs. Also, consent can be taken back at any time — even if you’re in the midst of something and feeling uncomfortable, you always have the right to stop.

There’s no such thing as implied consent. The absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes.” What you or a partner chooses to wear doesn’t mean that you or they are inviting unwanted sexual attention or “pre-consenting.” The same can be said for flirting, talking, showing interest or any other actions.

It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say no. It’s not consent if you’re being manipulated, pressured, or threatened to say yes. It’s also not consent if you or a partner is unable to legitimately give consent, which includes being asleep, unconscious, under the influence of conscious-altering substances or not able to understand what you’re saying yes to.

Nonconsent means STOP. If anyone involved isn’t consenting, then what is happening is or could be rape, sexual assault or abuse.


Here are some red flags that your partner doesn’t respect consent:

  • They pressure or guilt you into doing things you may not want to do.
  • They make you feel like you “owe” them — because you’re dating, or married, they gave you a gift, etc.
  • They react negatively (with sadness, anger or resentment) if you say “no” to something, or don’t immediately consent.
  • They ignore your wishes, and don’t pay attention to non-verbal cues that could show that you’re not consenting (EX: being reluctant, pulling away).

How to practice healthy consent: 

  • Talk about it! Communication is one of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship. Establish boundaries by explaining what things you and your partner are comfortable with and what things you may not feel comfortable with. Always ask first. Try phrases like:
    “Are you OK with this?”
    “If you’re into it, I could…”
    “Are you comfortable with this?”
  • Be aware of the physical and nonverbal signs of consent as well. If your partner seems uncomfortable, talk about it and discuss it. Don’t assume that silence is them saying yes.
  • Remember that giving and receiving consent is an ongoing process.

Further Reading

The Good Men Project has an amazing article about how to teach consent to your children, breaking down the ‘methods’ and ideas into what would be most appropriate for each age group.

The post “Drivers Ed for the Sexual Superhighway,” is geared toward teens but relates to any relationship.

The Consensual Project focuses on partnering with schools and universities to teach students about consent in their daily lives.

teaching teens healthy relationships

Teaching Teens About Healthy Relationships

For teens, a first relationship is exciting. However, a lack of experience in the love department can mean disappointment, broken hearts and even abuse. As a parent, teaching your child about healthy relationships is a good step to prepare them for the future. It’s never too early to talk about it.

Begin by asking questions to learn about what your teen already knows or thinks about relationships, such as “Are any of your friends dating? What would you want a boyfriend/girlfriend to be like?”

Discuss the elements of a healthy relationship:

Freedom to Be Yourself

Tell your teen that they should feel comfortable expressing who they are. This means spending time with the people they like, dressing however makes them feel good, and participating in the activities that make them happy.

Mutual Respect

Both people in the partnership should speak to each other respectfully. Partners should avoid put-downs, even in the heat of a disagreement.

Limited Jealousy

While the green-eyed monster is sometimes mistaken for caring, a good partner doesn’t make their partner feel guilty for spending time with family or friends instead of them.

Support

In a healthy relationship, partners offer a listening ear and encouragement for their significant other’s ideas and aspirations. In bad times, a partner can be the one to turn to for comfort.

Privacy

While sharing can be a good thing between a couple, being someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t require a person to open up every aspect of their life. Partners are still allowed their privacy, which includes text messages, computer passwords, etc.

Boundaries

Setting boundaries is an important part of any relationship. A couple should talk about what they’re comfortable with — how often will they see each other, how far do they want to go physically, etc.

Communication

Trust and honesty are key foundations to a healthy relationship. Both partners should be able to talk about feelings openly without fearing negative consequences. Partners should be able to discuss serious matters face-to-face, and find the right time to do so. Compromise is necessary in a healthy relationship.

By starting a conversation about healthy dating with your children now, they are more likely to feel comfortable coming to you in the future when they need to talk. If you suspect that your teen may currently be experiencing dating abuse in their relationship, read about how you can help and resources you can pass along.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Celebrate Healthy Relationships This Valentine’s Day

On the surface, the focus of Valentine’s Day seems to be teddy bears and gifts but the deeper meaning of the day lies in relationships — the one you have with yourself and those you have with others. Today, take time to reflect on the different people in your life and your relationships with them. Are you being an active participant in all of your relationships? A good friend, parent or partner?

This Valentine’s Day, celebrate the healthy relationships in your life by realizing what makes them great and by thinking of ways you could make them even better. Here are some ideas for how to deepen the bonds you share with your loved ones.

For your friends:
Are your friendships two-sided, with each of you giving the other support? Take time today to make sure you’re being the best friend you can be. Be there for your buddies in a way that’s focused on them. Practice “active listening”  by using clarifying phrases to make sure you know what they are saying. For example,”What I’m hearing you say is _______. Is that right?”  Use eye contact during a conversation. Don’t assume anything, and don’t spend time planning what you’ll say next instead of listening to what they’re saying now.

For you:
There’s no better time to focus on self-care than this Valentine’s Day. Give yourself the gift of paying a little more attention to #1 today (yes, that’s you!). By working on having a strong, healthy relationship with yourself, you’ll be better equipped to thrive in healthy relationships with friends and loved ones.

If you are a survivor of an abusive relationship and today is a difficult time for you, make sure to focus on your well-being and try to steer clear of things that will remind you of an ex, like the place you always went to dinner together, or a song you both loved.  If you’re worried that you might be tempted to your ex, schedule activities with friends to keep you busy and have people you can call. Don’t forget that we’re available at The Hotline, toll free, and 24/7. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233).

For your community:
February is a great time to give back in some way to your community, because it’s National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. One of the best ways to get the word out is to talk to the schools in your community — attend a PTA meeting and bring handouts for example. Download the teenDVmonth Toolkit which includes pledges, “how to” guides, prep manuals and more.

For your children:
In fostering a healthy relationship with your children, communication and dialogue are key. Take today to talk about healthy dating with your children and the young people in your life. Explain to them that in a healthy relationship, both partners feel free to be themselves and set the boundaries they want. Partners should respect these boundaries and be supportive of each others differences. Stress the importance of communication — and let it begin with this conversation between the two of you. If they want to text or talk on the phone to an advocate their own age, they can call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 77054.

For your partner:
Healthy relationships are all about respecting and honoring boundaries, but when you’re in a close relationship with someone this might sometimes fall by the wayside. Today, make a special effort to honor your partner’s boundaries, big or small. Does it drive them crazy when you leave the dishes in the sink instead of putting them in the dishwasher? Are they bothered when you show up late to places? Make that extra little effort to try respect their needs, even if it’s as simple as washing dishes and setting your watch back a few minutes. Honoring your partner’s boundaries now will prevent the little things from turning into bigger things later on — it will be a gift for both of you!

What are some ways you plan on celebrating the relationships in your life?

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

What is a Healthy Relationship?

“Healthy relationships.” This is a term we’re going to be talking about more on The Hotline blog. We want all of our callers to have healthy relationships in their lives.

What exactly do we mean by healthy though? And who decides what is healthy and what’s not? In the coming weeks, we want to look at what makes a healthy relationship so healthy, and what steps can be taken to improve the health of a relationship.

What Is Healthy?

Healthy relationships allow both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. Here are some signs of a healthy relationship.

Both partners:

  • Treat each other with respect
  • Feel supported to do things they like
  • Don’t criticize each other
  • Allow each other to spend time with friends and family
  • Listen to each other and compromise
  • Share some interests such as movies, sports, reading, dancing or music
  • Aren’t afraid to share their thoughts and feelings
  • Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes
  • Respect boundaries and do not abuse technology
  • Trust each other and don’t require their partner to “check in”
  • Don’t pressure the other to do things that they don’t want to do
  • Don’t constantly accuse each other of cheating or being unfaithful

There are two major components of healthy relationships: communication and boundaries.

Communication allows you and your partner to have a deep understanding of each other. Do you feel that you can openly talk to your partner? Do you feel heard when you express your feelings? Do you allow your partner the same chance? Communication allows two people to connect.

Setting boundariesis also an important part of a healthy relationship. There are two distinct people in a relationship. While a couple should have shared goals and values, it also matters that both people have their needs met. Each person should express to their partner what they are and are not comfortable with, especially when it comes to their sex life, finances, family and friends, personal space and time.

Ultimately, the two people in the relationship decide what is healthy for them and what is not. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.

Stay tuned for more information about healthy relationships. How do you define “healthy relationships?” If you need support in your relationship, don’t hesitate to call a Hotline advocate today at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

The Best Gift You Can Give Your Valentine is a Healthy Relationship

The most popular gifts loved ones give each other for Valentine’s day are roses, chocolates and jewelry. Yes, it is nice to get the flowers and treats, but it is also nice to know that you are in a loving and secure relationship. The best gift you can give a loved one is the gift of a healthy relationship year-round.

Here are some tips to a healthy relationship:

  • Be respectful, thoughtful and kind. This sounds simple enough but there are times when our own emotions get in the way and we take out our stress and anger on those we love.
  • Be honest and talk openly with each other if something is bothering you. If there is conflict, see if there is a compromise that suits you both.
  • Be supportive of each other’s successes and also be there for one another when things don’t go quite right.
  • Maintain your own identities and spend some time apart so that you do not become dependent on each other and isolated from friends and family.

If you’re a parent, remember that maintaining a healthy relationship is also good for your children. They mimic what they see at home so show them through your own relationship what they should look for in a partner. It is never too early to talk with your children about how to develop a healthy relationship.

Consider these goals for teaching your children about relationships:

  • Ensure they respect other people and other people’s property.
  • Show them how to address a situation that makes them angry without using violence or angry words.
  • If they have a problem with a friend, talk to them about compromises.
  • Teach them that there are consequences for our actions. Kids need to know this, even at an early age.

There is no such thing as a perfect relationship but you should strive for a healthy relationship that makes you happy and doesn’t cause you an inordinate amount of stress. Everyone deserves love, dignity and respect in their relationship.

Happy Valentine’s Day!