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*Courtesy of loveisrespect.org.
Healthy relationships allow for individuality, bring out the best in both people, and invite personal growth. Developing meaningful relationships is a concern for all of us. Getting close to others, sharing our joys, sorrows, needs, wants, affections, and excitement are all involved in healthy relationships.
Communication is a key part to building a healthy relationship. The first step is making sure you both want and expect the same things — being on the same page is very important. The following tips can help you create and maintain a healthy relationship:
Creating boundaries is a good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By setting boundaries together, you can both have a deeper understanding of the type of relationship that you and your partner 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:
Even healthy relationships can use a boost now and then. You may need a boost if you feel disconnected from your partner or like the relationship has gotten stale. If so, find a fun, simple activity you both enjoy, like going on a walk, and talk about the reasons why you want to be in the relationship. Then, keep using healthy behaviors as you continue dating.
Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect. In the early stages of an abusive relationship, you may not think the unhealthy behaviors are a big deal. However, possessiveness, insults, jealous 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 you deserve 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:
Even though you cannot change your partner, you can make changes in your own life to stay safe. Consider leaving your partner before the abuse gets worse. Whether you decide to leave or stay, make sure to use our safety planning tips to stay safe.
It is really important to understand what Interpersonal Violence (IPV) is so that we can identify it when it occurs. So often we think we know what it is and how it happens but in reality our understanding may not be accurate. IPV is defined as sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence and involves issues of domestic and dating violence. All IPV incorporates elements of Power and Control Wheel. In all instances, the survivor of the abuse is never to blame. The person who commits the act of violence makes the choice to hurt someone else and the blame rests solely on the perpetrator’s shoulders.
Sexual Assault: this is an umbrella term that refers to any sexual activity where one person has not gained permission (consent) from the other person for the sexual activity.
Relationship Violence (Domestic and Dating Violence): this is a pattern of abuse that occurs in a relationship, whether you are (or have been) in a committed partnership, married, or dating. Abuse can be physical (e.g: hitting, pushing etc), emotional (e.g: making someone feel they are worthless or stupid), verbal (e.g: name calling, put downs), financial (e.g: withholding money).
Stalking: is a purposeful course of action, directed at a specific person that causes that person to be afraid, fearful, or intimidated. Stalking can occur during a relationship, after a relationship, or in the absence of a relationship.
For federal and state definitions of domestice violence, dating violence, and stalking, visit the Definitions page.
When we think about alternatives to vulnerability, we must be careful not to assume that there is always something a person “could have done” to prevent an assault. This is blaming the victim. When a person is sexually assaulted, it is the assaulter who is to blame.
In addition, sexual assaults, including those committed by acquaintances, may be violent and unexpected. This means that even when a person is able to assert what s/he wants, there is no guarantee that his/her feelings will be respected.
There are no formulas that can guarantee our safety from sexual assault. In a situation that is becoming coercive or violent, the moment is often too confusing to plan an escape, and people react in various ways. Some will fight back. Others will not fight back for any number of reasons such as fear, self-blame, or not wanting to hurt someone who may be a close friend. While fighting and giving up are both extreme reactions, it is important to realize that any reaction is legitimate. Again, the burden of responsibility must be on the attacker, not the victim.
Remember that date rape is a crime. It is never acceptable to use force in sexual situations, no matter what the circumstances.
Always make sure it’s consensual. If you’re going to have sex, make sure that it’s consensual. Consensual sex is when both partners are freely and willingly agreeing to whatever sexual activity is occurring. Consent is an active process, you cannot assume you have consent – you need to ask. Consent cannot be given legally when an individual is intoxicated. Visit our section for more information.