What our Safer Tomorrow looks like
Kids walk down the hallway in school with their heads up, arms around each other, laughing; they treat each other with respect.
When they have a disagreement, they talk it out.
Boyfriends and girlfriends accept each other’s boundaries and express their feelings in safe ways.
Adults model how to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Whenever violence occurs, it is dealt with immediately; the harmer learns to understand the affects of these actions and the one who is harmed is supported through the healing process.
How we are getting there
Check out the Start Strong website for a wonderful and thoughtful effort to describe how healthy and unhealthy relationships are portrayed in the latest songs.
What you are listening to, what it is your friends are listening to, and what it is your kids are listening to can shape their view of and their actions in the relationships they have.
Making sure you both want and expect a healthy and functional relationship is important and effective communication is a key part of building the foundation of trust and respect required for it. The following tips can help you create and maintain healthy relationships:
- Speak Up. In a healthy relationship, if something is bothering you, it’s always best to talk about it instead of simply holding it in and letting the issue go unaddressed.
- Respect Each Other. The other party’s wishes and feelings have value. Let them know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
- Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
- Be Supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to the other. Let them know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
- Respect Each Others Privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to know everything about each other and constantly be around each other. Healthy relationships require space.
Creating boundaries is a good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By establishing boundaries, you can have a better understanding of the type of relationship that you want. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel trapped or like you’re “walking on eggshells.” Creating boundaries is not a sign of secrecy or distrust — it’s an expression of what makes you feel comfortable and what you would like or not like to happen within the relationship. Remember, healthy boundaries shouldn’t restrict your ability to:
- Be with others without being dominated or controlled.
- Participate in activities and hobbies you like.
- Respect each other’s individual likes and needs.
Healthy Relationship Boosters
Even healthy relationships can use a boost now and then. You may need a boost if you feel disconnected or feel like the relationship has turned uninteresting. If so, find a fun or simple activity you both enjoy, like going on a walk or talking about the reasons you like to be in the relationship.
What Isn’t a Healthy Relationship?
Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality or respect. In the early stages of an abusive relationship, you may not think the unhealthy behaviors are a big deal. However, insults, possessiveness, accusations, yelling, humiliation, pulling hair, pushing or other negative, abusive behaviors, are — at their root — exertions of power and control. Remember that abuse is always a choice and everyone deserves to be respected. There is no excuse for abuse of any kind.
If you think your relationship is unhealthy, it’s important to think about your safety now. Consider these points as you move forward:
- Understand that a person can only change if they want to. You can’t force the other to alter their behavior if they don’t believe they’re wrong.
- Focus on your own needs. Are you taking care of yourself? Your wellness is always important. Watch your stress levels, take time to be with friends, get enough sleep. If you find that your friendship is hurting you, consider ending it.
Connect with your support systems. Often, abusers try to isolate the other. Talk to your friends, family members, teachers and others to make sure you’re getting the emotional support you need.