The start of summer often means the beginning of new romances or friendships. Everyone deserves to be safe and happy, so how do you know if your new relationship is healthy?
By Holly Watson, YWCA Project CARE Manager
It is your right to have safe, supportive and healthy relationships! Project CARE’s team of self-advocates includes people with disabilities who have learned about safe relationships and now teach others what they have learned.
They host educational classes and support groups for people who experience disability to learn more about healthy relationships. We’re sharing some of their tips so you can know when a relationship is healthy, warning signs of unhealthy or abusive relationships, and how to get help if you need it.
Healthy relationships are based on equality and respect
Healthy relationships include good communication, trust, honesty and feelings of safety—safe to be ourselves and safe to share our thoughts and feelings. In safe relationships, we work through problems and find solutions together.
Unhealthy relationships can make us feel sad or lonely
Sometimes we may be in relationships with others who make us feel sad, angry, or lonely. Those may be unhealthy relationships, which happen when one person tries to control another person. They may lie, say hurtful things, or put pressure on them to do things that person may not want to do or are not safe for them to do.
Different signs let us know if our relationship is healthy
Unhealthy relationships become abusive when someone hurts us verbally, emotionally, physically, sexually, and/or financially. Abusive relationships are based on power and control. They happen when one person makes all of the decisions—about sexual choices, friend groups, boundaries, even what’s true or not true. Abuse is NEVER ok, and it is not your fault! There is help and support available.
We don’t always know what kind of relationship we are in at first, but there are signs we can look for to guide our decisions about relationships with friends, partners, relatives or helping professionals.
Healthy relationships keep us safer, help us feel happier and are extremely important. In healthy relationships, we feel supported, loved, valued and respected. Healthy relationships allow us to be ourselves and communicate our needs!
RELATIONSHIP RED FLAGS
- Do they make fun of you, call you names or blame you for their problems?
- Do they pressure you to do activities or other things that go against your values?
- Do they threaten to hurt you?
- When you are with your friend, partner, relative or helping professional do you feel afraid of them?
To connect with Project CARE’s Self-Advocacy Team, email email@example.com.