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bisexuality

Biphobia is Real…and Really Hurtful: Part 1

By Heather, an advocate. This is the first of a two-part series. This post is for bi+ folks!

bisexualityHey bisexual readers, we see you! March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, so we want to talk about the health of your relationships.

If you’re bisexual (or pan- or polysexual, hetero- or homoflexible, or Queer & non-monosexual) it’s possible that your sexuality has caused some concerns or confusion in your relationship. (Sadly, bisexual women are more likely than any other group to experience intimate partner violence.) We’re here to tell you that none of this is your fault! Healthy relationships are based on trust, honesty, respect and equality. Everyone, of every sexual orientation, deserves that. No matter which gender you or your partner are, your bisexuality is valid.

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fight-fair

How to “Fight” Fair

fight-fairArguments happen in every healthy relationship — it sounds contradictory, but it’s true. It’s okay to argue with your partner; not everyone will agree on everything all of the time. But arguments can have a negative impact if they aren’t handled properly.

Now, we want to be clear: we are by no means saying that physical altercations, abusive outbursts or screaming tirades are okay or normal. We’re talking about disagreements that occur within healthy, respectful relationships.

The trick to preventing an argument from destroying your relationship is learning how to “fight” fair. You and your partner can use the tips below to keep your relationship healthy and respectful, even during disagreements.

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jealousy

Breaking Down Myths About Jealousy

jealousyJealousy is a common issue in many relationships. It’s normal to feel some jealousy with our partners, but what determines if a person’s relationship behaviors are healthy, unhealthy or abusive is how they deal with their jealous feelings. Since there are so many different ways to go about confronting your own jealousy, we want to break down some of the myths and help you learn to handle jealousy in a healthy way.

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is-love-enough

Is Love Enough?

is-love-enoughLove seems to be everywhere. In songs, movies, TV shows, books and magazines, we’re told that it’s the greatest thing in the world and that all you need is love.

But the truth is, love isn’t always enough of a reason to stay in a relationship.

Don’t get us wrong: loving someone, or caring deeply for them, is a wonderful thing, but it’s a feeling that can also make a relationship complicated. We hear from many people who tell us about unhealthy behaviors or feeling unhappy in a relationship but say that they still love their partners. It’s very possible to have feelings of love for someone even if they are mistreating you.

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hotline-essence

Bringing the Love to ESSENCE Fest

Last weekend, The Hotline was thrilled to #BringtheLove to ESSENCE Fest! Hosted by ESSENCE Magazine in New Orleans, ESSENCE Fest is a four-day celebration that draws major artists, celebrities and speakers and seeks to empower the African-American community.

Things officially got started on Friday, July 2, and throughout the weekend The Hotline was at the center of the action. People from around the country visited our booth to learn more about the work we do, sign a pledge to speak out against domestic violence, share their stories or get tips on how to help people in their lives experiencing abuse.

ESSENCE Fest

During the festival, our chief communications officer Cameka Crawford participated in two panels where she had the opportunity to discuss healthy relationships and domestic abuse.

Essence Fest

Cameka Crawford (center) discusses healthy relationships at ESSENCE Fest with Jonathan Sprinkles and Vicky Boston.

Hotline staff members were also able to provide on the spot advocacy during the event. Maisha Barrett, a Hotline advocate, spoke with people who had experienced domestic violence in the 1970s and 80s. Many of them noted that the conversation around domestic violence, and the availability of support services, had changed drastically in the past few decades. “They said that there was no help then and that it was just something that you dealt with on your own and didn’t talk about to anyone,” Barrett recalls. “A lot of survivors came up and shared their stories about getting away from their abusers and took a lot of pride in signing our board in support. I was also struck by the amount of people who took four and five and six of our [information] cards because they had that many people in their immediate life who were currently being abused by partners.”

Hotline advocate Anitra Edwards said, “It was really great talking to so many people about the services we provide and what we do. A lot of the people we met were also very willing to share their stories or how they were affected by domestic violence.”

ESSENCE Fest’s 21st year was a huge success, and we’re already looking forward to ESSENCE Fest 2016 and continuing to make an impact at this event!

Essence Fest

Roland Martin stopped by The Hotline’s booth to sign our pledge board.

dvinthenews

Everyone Deserves a Safe Relationship

You’re probably aware that the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the extremely popular book series, opens today nationwide. Despite the popularity of the series, many different voices have criticized the books for portraying and even romanticizing unhealthy and abusive behaviors.

Some members of the media and other groups have also commented about the characters participating in BDSM. We at The Hotline want to note that a BDSM relationship is not inherently abusive. People in the BDSM community enter into consenting and healthy relationships every day.

A healthy relationship includes open communication, mutually agreed-upon boundaries and consent from all partners. No matter how a relationship is defined, behaviors like verbal abuse, sexual violence, jealousy, possessiveness, stalking and damaging or destroying belongings are all signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. If you have questions about your own relationship, if you feel unsafe or if you are feeling triggered, advocates are here to support you 24/7, confidentially and without judgment.

At The Hotline, we believe everyone deserves to be in a healthy and safe relationship.

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!

digital-safety

Talking to Teens About Digital Safety

digital-safetyTeens are online a lot these days. Whether they’re updating Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, using Snapchat, or “checking in” with various location tools, technology has become highly integrated into their lives. While we definitely support using technology in healthy, fun, and productive ways, sometimes it can make life difficult or dangerous for teens.

Nothing ever really disappears from the internet – whether it’s a photo, a status update, or a tweet – so it’s important to have regular, open and honest conversations with your kids or students about safe ways to use technology. During teenDVmonth, we want to encourage you to start having these conversations as soon as possible! Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Open the conversation by using current examples of how sharing online can quickly escalate out of control. In one brilliant experiment, a teacher received a LOT of attention when she posted a photo of herself online to show her 5th grade students how anything can be widely shared or digitally manipulated on the internet.
  • Talk to your teen about privacy. How does he or she define privacy? What types of things would they like to keep private? Be sure to talk about using apps to “check in” to places online, or tagging their location on Instagram and Facebook, and how that might compromise their safety or their friends’ safety.
  • Create “Digital Safety Guidelines” with your teen. Let them have input, and talk through what they are comfortable sharing online and why. Together, you can learn about privacy settings for social networks and how to use them.
  • Talk to your teen about establishing digital boundaries with their boyfriends or girlfriends. These boundaries might shift and change as the relationship progresses, but it’s important for both partners to continue communicating about what they’re comfortable with. Some good questions to discuss are:

– Is it okay to tag or check in?
– Do we post our relationship status?
– Is it okay to friend or follow my friends?
– When is it okay to text me and what is the expectation for when we return it?
– Is it okay to use each other’s devices?
– Is it okay to post, tweet or comment about our relationship?

  • Go over the signs of digital abuse. Ask if they’ve ever experienced any of these signs, or if they know someone who has. Brainstorm ways to deal with this type of abuse.

The internet isn’t going away any time soon, so it’s unrealistic to expect your teens not to use it. By learning more about how the teenagers in your life are using technology, you can help them determine how best to keep themselves safe and healthy.

If you have any other suggestions for how to talk to teens about staying safe online, please leave them in the comments!

respect-week

Get Involved: Respect Week 2014 is February 10-14!

At loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, our advocates take calls, chats, and texts from teens who have questions about relationships, and respect is an issue they frequently discuss. In honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (teenDVmonth), we hope that you will start conversations with the teens in your life about what healthy relationships look like. Maybe you got things started this past Tuesday on It’s Time to Talk Day, but if not, you still have time – Respect Week 2014 is just around the corner!

Hosted by loveisrespect’s partner Break the Cycle, Respect Week encourages teens and youth leaders to participate in teenDVmonth. From wearing orange to actively engaging your community, here are just a few ways you can help spread awareness of teen dating violence:

      • Download the Respect Week 2014 Guide, created by loveisrespect’s National Youth Advisory Board, for a comprehensive look at information, ideas, and activities for the week
      • Wear orange and be part of the nationwide orange-out on Tuesday, February 11 to help spread awareness of dating violence. Invite your friends to the Facebook event, post a picture and update your social media using the hashtags #teenDVmonth and #RespectWeek2014
      • On Valentine’s Day, ask students to read the National Respect Announcement across your school’s intercom, to your class, youth group or wherever fits best. You’ll raise awareness of teen dating violence and how to end it. You can also spread the word by joining the Thunderclap and sending out the National Respect Announcement to all your social media networks
      • Host an event where you can educate your family and friends about how dating abuse affects one in three teens
      • Keep talking to the teenagers you know and love about healthy relationships

This year, take part and help everyone learn how to build relationships free from abuse. Keep the conversation going and get ready for Respect Week 2014!

NTDVAPM-2014

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

TeenDVMonthAccording to loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a partner. While teen dating violence can happen to anyone, the majority of the violence affects young women. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TeenDV Month), a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it, and YOU have the power to help! Talk to teachers at your local high school, bring up dating violence at the next school board meeting, and have a conversation with the teens in your life about healthy relationships.

We’ll kick off TeenDVMonth tomorrow, February 4th, with It’s Time to Talk Day. Hosted by Break the Cycle’s Love Is Not Abuse Campaign, It’s Time To Talk Day is an annual awareness day that aims to generate conversations about healthy relationships and prevent teen dating violence and abuse. Learn more and pledge your support on the website!

Another great way to get involved this month is to participate in Respect Week, February 10-14, hosted by the loveisrespect National Youth Advisory Board (NYAB). Check out the loveisrespect website for more information and to download the NYAB’s Respect Week 2014 Guide.

Everyone deserves safe and healthy relationships. Want to know how to help a young person experiencing abuse? Call our advocates today at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). Also, find us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated with important resources and information for loved ones who may be experiencing dating violence.

Don’t forget check back with our blog throughout February for more on TeenDVMonth!

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I See DV as Unacceptable

Today our special How I See DV guest is Tonya Turner, Director of Legal Services at Break the Cycle. In this position, she oversees the legal services program that represents young domestic and dating violence survivors between the ages of 12-24 in civil protection proceedings and custody matters. Tonya is an expert on LGBTQ dating abuse and has provided key trainings on the issue to law enforcement and the American Bar Association.

blog-posters-ttTonya, can you tell us a little about the service you provide to LGBTQ youth?

I provide holistic legal services to young LGBTQ survivors of dating violence, stalking and sexual assault. I also train young people about healthy relationships so that they can better identify unhealthy or abusive ones.

Why did you get involved with this work?

I believe dating violence, stalking and sexual assault are often normalized and minimized and I wish to help shape a world where dating violence is not acceptable or tolerated.

What sustains you in this work?

The fact that I genuinely believe that helping one person actually makes a difference. I believe the impact of my work can really shape the way young people view relationships and assist them in making healthier choices.

What are some of the unique struggles people in abusive LGBTQ relationships face?

Many LGBTQ teens are not yet “out” to their parents or friends and may be afraid that an abusive dating partner will “out” them to friends or family. Also, many young LGBTQ survivors are afraid to ask for help because bullying or harassment may start or increase.

Many LGBTQ teens also are afraid that they will be not believed or taken seriously. Often adults believe that abuse between LGBTQ partners is always mutual, does not occur in lesbian relationships, or that the abuser is only the more dominate partner.

What would you say to someone who is hesitant to get help about their relationship because they are afraid of getting outed?

I would stress that everyone deserves to be in a healthy and loving relationship. Next, I would discuss their concerns about speaking to their parents. If they are not ready to come out, I would encourage them to safety plan and connect them with LGBTQ resources so that they could get additional support.

How do you define a healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship involves two people who can laugh together, talk about anything, encourage each other and respect each other’s differences. In a healthy relationship, your partner makes you feel like nothing is impossible and they will be right there with you.

We know you were involved with the creation of showmelovedc.org. Can you tell us about that project?

Many LGBTQ people do not feel supported or know their legal rights. Show Me Love was a campaign created to celebrate healthy LGBTQ relationships, and to raise awareness in the LGBTQ community about legal rights and resources available to people in unhealthy or abusive relationships.

Please complete this sentence. I see DV_______.

I see domestic violence not being tolerated as we empower people to have healthier relationships and they stand up and say violence is not acceptable.

About Our Contributor

Tonya Turner is currently the Director of Legal Services at Break the Cycle. In her position at Break the Cycle, Tonya trains Metropolitan Police Department Officers and adult service providers about domestic violence laws that impact young people and how to better help young people experiencing abuse. She has provided substantive and skills training with such programs as the ABA’s Commission on Domestic Violence Custody Institute, the National Institute on Civil Representation of Victims of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Sexual Assault Who Are D/deaf, Hard of Hearing and/or with Disabilities, and Best Practices for Lawyers Assisting Pro Se Victims of DV with Civil Protection Orders. Tonya also does outreach and education on LGBTQ domestic and dating violence. She is a board member of Rainbow Response Coalition (RRC). RRC is actively committed to informing LGBT people in the Washington Metropolitan Area of their legal rights and ensuring that law enforcement officers respond to dating/domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking calls involving LGBT people appropriately. Tonya is also on the advisory board for Show Me Love- a local campaign to raise the awareness, inform survivors in DC’s LGBTQ communities about their legal rights, and direct people to resources about maintaining healthy and violence-free relationships. Tonya received her advanced degree from Rutgers School of Law.

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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.