"A healthy relationship will never require you to sacrifice your friends, your dreams, or your dignity." ~Mandy Hale
Do you feel Alone. Isolated. and Broken?
This blog was inspired by a presentation that I am giving to parent's of high school students. I was asked to present on the idea of Teen Dating Violence. Are you aware of this issue? Teen dating violence is essentially domestic violence, but in a teenage dating relationship. However, I am not just writing this blog for teenagers who are in dating relationships, I am writing it for anyone who has ever been in a relationship that was abusive or violent.. There is a huge lack of awareness around abuse and violence and a subject that is uncomfortable for most to talk about. To come out and talk about abuse that you have experienced is tough. Not only are you having to vulnerable, but there is often a fear of judgment and lack of support. Abuse or violence within a relationship (teen dating, adults in a dating relationship, or marriage) is often something that can cause immense shame, which can therefore keep many people from stepping out and speaking about their abuse and seeking help for the affects that the abuse has/had on their life. I want you to know that if this is something you have experienced, there are people out there that want to support you through your healing journey. You are not alone.
Abuse or violence are NEVER acceptable within a relationship. However, if you are or have ever been in a relationship like this, it is possible that the abuser told you that you deserved the abuse, and therefore you have experienced the shame that I am speaking of. Shame is a heavy burden to carry and one that you do not want to carry for any longer than you have to. My hope for this blog is to bring awareness to what red flags appear in an unhealthy relationship and encourage you to go get the support that you so desperately need. It is sometimes hard to see that your relationship may be unhealthy if you are not on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, the abuse can become so normalized that we think it is acceptable, because that is all we know. I hope to provide tools for you to set boundaries for yourself. This is a tough subject for sure, but one that deserves attention and to not be ignored. I choose to not put my blinders on and be confined by being comfortable, but rather by stepping out and talking about uncomfortable situations that are happening on more of a regular basis than we want to believe or acknowledge.
So what is violence and what does it look like? Violence can be physical, verbal/emotional, or sexual. Physical violence can include such actions as hitting, slapping, shoving, punching, or kicking. Verbal/Emotional violence can include taking a jab at your partner's self worth, such as putting them down, pushing their buttons in ways that you know will hurt them, name calling, shaming, or embarrassing them intentionally. Sexual violence can be summarized by any force of sexual contact without consent. It can also include spreading rumors about the partner if they do not consent. Have you experienced any of these actions?
Consent is mandatory in all relationships. Consent is your right. Consent is: Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. I want to clarify some things that are confused as consent. Consent IS NOT:
1. When you say yes under the influence,
2. Consent IS NOT saying yes because you were pressured to or are/were afraid to say no.
3. Yes does not mean yes eternally - each event should be treated individually.
Consent is absolutely mandatory, no matter what kind of relationship you are in. If consent is not given by both parties, then sexual contact should not be occurring. In fact, conversations should be had in the beginning of the relationship in regards to the comfort level of each partner. Comfort level meaning, each person needs to share with the other person how far they are willing to go physically/sexually with their partner, so that they are both on the same page. This can prevent misunderstandings later on. All in all, consent is absolutely one of the most, if not the most important aspect of a physical/sexual relationship. Your partner needs to be willing to actively listen and understand what you are communicating with your comfort level. They also need to be respectful of when you say no. Red flags that can appear if your partner is not respecting your consent include:
1. If they pressure or guilt you into being physical with them,
2. If they ignore your wishes and non-verbal cues,
3. Your partner telling you that you owe them,
4. They react negatively to you saying no.
Many people may not feel that these may apply to marriages, and I would disagree with that. It is a case by case basis. In healthy marriages, your partner knows what is comfortable/uncomfortable to you and has taken the time to acknowledge and respect those things. Just because you are married or in a serious relationship does not mean that you still do not have the right to say no to something that you partner wants to try if it makes you uncomfortable or is triggering to you from past abuse. There can be abusive partners in marriages if they are not willing to respect your wishes. Each person, no matter what relationship they are in needs to know that they have the right to say no and that nothing should happen without their consent. You have that right to consent. Be proud of the fact that you have a voice - don't be afraid to use it!
Boundaries = Respect. Boundaries are a way for you to show yourself respect, as well as giving your partner certain standards to respect. It is absolutely important that you take the time to figure out for yourself what is comfortable physically, emotionally, and sexually. If you do not have that self awareness, it is going to be absolutely impossible for your partner to have awareness around the things that make you uncomfortable. So if you do any preparing before you enter into a relationship, figure out what is comfortable for you and what is uncomfortable for you. Once you have figured those out, communicate them to your partner. Boundaries are you demanding respect from your partner and setting limits for what you will not tolerate. To set an emotional boundary, you may say to them "I am not comfortable having sex until I know you better, so I refuse to go there with you until I am comfortable." or "I am not okay with you calling me names, I deserve better than that, so if you cannot refrain from calling me names, I will have to end this conversation." If your partner is being physically abusive, a boundary may be you leaving the environment that you are in completely. If you are at their house, you can leave their house and go home. You always have the right to set a boundary for yourself. You ALWSYS have the right to say no at any time. Your yes means more when you are willing to say NO!
"A healthy relationship will inspire you to be more of who you are, not require you to give up who you are." ~ The SW
Characteristics of being in an abusive relationship can include:
1. Your partner secluding you and being possessive of your time.
**It is absolutely necessary to maintain your relationships outside of your romantic relationship.
2. If your partner is demanding you to do things that you are not comfortable with, especially if you say no, but they still pressure you.
3. Explosive temper. If your partner is exploding at you with raging anger.
4. Checking your personal information such as your phone or email without your permission. This is a huge red flag that your partner does not trust you and therefore does not indicate a healthy relationship.
5. Accusations. If your partner is accusing you of cheating, without any basis.
6. Belittling you. Is your partner intentionally trying to tear you down and take jabs at your self-esteem? This could include such statements as "your stupid or you are not worthy of love".
These are all things that can be addressed with boundaries. However, it is important that once the boundaries are set that they are reinforced by you, over and over, no matter how hard it may be. (Look for a future blog on setting boundaries).
The biggest thing that I want to touch on is the fact that you can always leave a relationship at any time. I am not referring to giving up on a relationship because it got hard. I am talking about leaving a partner if they have become violent or abusive. If the issues have been addressed and nothing changes, you have to do what is best for you. This is often a very scary thought, because you do not know if the partner is going to follow you and try to harm you further. However, it is important for you to get out earlier than later, because it can become much harder to get out of the relationship the longer you stay. Often times you start to feel shameful and feel as though it is your fault or that you are somehow deserving of the treatment that you are receiving. Let me tell you now that you NEVER deserve abuse. If something feels uncomfortable, try communicating with your partner about it and if they still do not respect you and continue to do things that make you uncomfortable, that is when you need to consider whether or not it is worth staying in that relationship.
The biggest encouragement that I want to provide for you is to not be afraid to reach out and seek help. There are resources out there that can provide for a safe place to stay if you are exiting an abusive relationship.
1. Love is Respect:
•Text “loveis” to 22522
2. National Domestic Violence Hotline
3. National Sexual Assault Hotline
• 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
4. National Domestic Violence Hotline
5. National Sexual Assault Hotline
• 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
6. SafeHouse - Domestic Violence Emergency Shelter
24-hour crisis & information
7. Gateway Battered Women's Services
Crisis Line - 303-343-1851
You have valuable. You have purpose. You Are Loved.
Have you considered seeking help for past abuse that you have experienced?
To schedule an appointment:
Call me today - 720-336-0913
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nurtured Hearts Counseling's Blog
I am a Licensed Therapist in Lone Tree, Colorado and my goal for this blog is to explore taboo subjects that no one is willing to talk about and I am eager to bring awareness to.