Everyone deserves a healthy and safe relationship. These days, adults and adolescents alike see mixed messages of what a healthy relationship really looks like. However, the conversation we should be having with our friends and family is about what qualities encourage and enhance a healthy relationship with a partner. A healthy relationship requires us to have good boundaries, trust between partners, respect, open communication, and more.
What Can I Do If I’m Worried a Relationship is Unsafe?
It can be hard, but don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Let them know you are concerned about their safety and want to help them. Be open minded and supportive by listening to your friend. Validate their feelings and be respectful of their decisions. Remind your friend that abuse is not “normal.” Take this opportunity to let them know that this treatment is not okay, nor is it their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship. Be present and focused on your friend or family member, not their abusive partner. Educate yourself about local and online resources and let your friend know about them. Help them develop a plan for what to do when they feel unsafe, and offer to be a part of that plan. Let a safe adult know about your concerns, and don’t be afraid to ask for support to navigate this conversation.
Types of Abuse:
Physical abuse is any unwanted contact towards your body. Abusive may not always cause pain or even leave a bruise, but it’s still unhealthy and not respectful. Examples of physical abuse include:
- Biting, kicking, scratching, and pinching.
- Throwing objects such as a phone, book, or remote.
- Pulling hair.
- Pushing or pulling someone.
- Grabbing clothing.
- Using or threatening to use a gun, knife, or other weapons.
- Inappropriate touching without permission.
- Forcing someone to have sex or perform a sexual act.
Emotional abuse is a non-physical behavior that causes emotional distress. These behaviors include threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting or calling, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking. There are many observable behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse, including:
- Calling someone names and putting them down.
- Yelling and screaming, stalking, or manipulation.
- Intentionally embarrassing someone in public.
- Preventing someone from seeing or talking with friends and family.
- Telling someone what to do and/or wear.
- Damaging property when they are angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
- Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate someone.
- Blaming the victim’s actions for abusive or unhealthy behavior.
- Accusing someone of cheating and jealousy of outside relationships.
- Threatening to commit suicide to keep someone from breaking up with them.
- Threatening to harm someone they care about.
- Making their partner feel guilty or immature for refusal to consent or engage in sexual activity.
- Starting malicious rumors about their partner.
Sexual abuse is any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. Just because the victim “didn’t say no,” doesn’t mean that they meant “yes.” When someone does not resist an unwanted sexual advance, it doesn’t mean that they consent.
- Unwanted kissing or touching.
- Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
- Rape or attempted rape.
- Refusing to use condoms or restricting a partner’s access to birth control.
- Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
- Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity.
- Pressuring or forcing someone to have sex or perform sexual acts.
- Using sexual insults toward someone.
Digital abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner.
- Dictates who their partner can or cannot interact with on social media.
- Sends negative, insulting or even threatening emails or messages.
- Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others to keep constant tabs on their partner.
- Makes visible and public updates that cause emotional stress to the partner
If you are concerned about a friend, a coworker, your child, or your own safety, there are resources available to help.
Call 1-866-331-9474 or Text* LOVEIS to 22522 for the National Dating Abuse Helpline
CDC’s Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Sexual Assault Hotline
In Weld County:
You can call A Woman’s Place for advocacy, crisis intervention, and services:
For support for mental health or substance use issues, call 970-347-2120 to reach North Range’s Crisis line. You can also call the state hotline at 844-493-8255 (TALK), or text “TALK” to 38255. These services are available 24/7/365.