What is Respect in a Healthy Relationship?

People have a lot of different ideas about what the word “respect” means. Sometimes, it is used to mean admiration for someone important or inspirational to us. Other times, respect refers to deference towards a figure of authority, like a parent, relative, teacher, boss or even a police officer. In this context, it is presumed that respect should be given to those who have certain types of knowledge and power. And then other times, respect means upholding the basic right that every person has to make their own choices and feel safe in their own daily lives.

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Healthy Relationships Resolutions for 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!

We love the start of a new year. It’s such a great opportunity to take a closer look at our lives, what we’re happy about and what we’d like to improve or change moving forward.

As always, we’ve got healthy relationships on our minds here at loveisrespect. We came up with a few healthy relationship resolutions to help you make 2017 your healthiest year yet!

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Emotional Safety Planning

This post was written by Diane, an advocate

A safety plan can help you stay safe while in an abusive relationship, while preparing to leave an abusive relationship or after leaving. Often, people focus on planning around physical safety, but it’s important to consider your emotional safety as well.

Emotional safety can look different for different people. Ultimately, it’s about developing a personalized plan that helps you feel accepting of your emotions and decisions when dealing with abuse. Below are some ideas for how to create and maintain an emotional safety plan that works for you.

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Decisions, Decisions

by Heather, a loveisrespect advocate

We all make many decisions every day. Some are fairly easy, like what to eat or wear. Some decisions can affect other people, like how fast we choose drive. And for some decisions (like whether you’re ready for sex, if going to college is the right choice for you, what to do about a pregnancy, or whether to tell your family you’re bisexual), you might need to do a lot of thinking and soul-searching.

Making a decision can be hard, especially if there is no clear, “right” answer. We always recommend that you trust your gut instincts, but getting feedback from people who care about you (including advocates here at loveisrespect!) can be helpful, too. However, it’s important to remember that no one else is living your life; you are. You are the expert in your situation, and you are the only person who can decide what is right for you.

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Dealing with Shame After Abuse

By Anitra, loveisrespect youth organizer

You probably heard the recent news about actor Johnny Depp allegedly abusing his wife Amber Heard. Although Heard’s case against Depp was strong enough for her to secure a restraining order, people still came to his rescue and accused her of making false allegations.

It wasn’t surprising to see the usual pattern of victim blaming and shaming that usually occurs with domestic violence. People expressed disbelief and came to Depp’s defense to say, “I don’t believe he is capable of doing something like that.” There was shock: “He’s just not that type of person.” And people shamed Heard by calling her names, trying to discredit her and asking, “Why didn’t she come forward sooner?”

That last question is pretty commonly asked of domestic violence survivors: “Why didn’t they speak up sooner?”, “Why didn’t they just leave?”, “Why didn’t they tell anyone?” After being a peer advocate for loveisrespect, speaking with dating abuse survivors and experiencing abuse myself, I can provide an answer to those questions: shame. Shame (among other factors) often makes victims feel like they are trapped, like they are silenced, like there is no way out. Shame is what keeps many victims from coming forward.

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Going Single and Going Strong

This post was contributed by Katy, a loveisrespect advocate

At loveisrespect, we’re obviously focused on helping people build healthy dating relationships. But we know that not everyone is currently in or wants to be in a romantic relationship! Although having healthy relationships with others is important, the most important healthy relationship you can have is with yourself.

Maybe you’re not ready to date anyone yet, maybe you’re choosing to be single right now (or indefinitely), or maybe you are considering breaking up with your partner but the thought of being single is terrifying to you. No matter what, it’s really important to understand that dating someone or being in a relationship doesn’t “complete” you. A lot of people might feel that if they’re not in a relationship, or if they don’t want to be in one, something must be wrong with them or something is missing from their lives. But this isn’t true! You are whole and complete just as you are. Being single may look lonely, scary, unfulfilling or boring to some people, but it doesn’t have to be.

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Safety Planning for the Holidays

This post was contributed by Emma, a loveisrespect advocate

The holidays are often a time of joy and community, but for people in abusive relationships, the holidays can be stressful and dangerous. Spending time with family and friends, dealing with financial stress and traveling can make safety planning a challenge. Family and friends of survivors may also struggle to find ways to help or be supportive. We wanted to offer a few suggestions for survivors and friends or family of survivors for making the holidays feel safer.

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Tips for Safely Reaching Out for Support

This post was written by Lauren C.

Being in a relationship should not mean you lose your right to privacy or your right to talk to whomever you like. But in an abusive relationship, an abusive person may isolate their partner from sources of support. This is often done by checking their partner’s call log and text history or denying their partner the right to a phone.

Reaching out for support when you’re in an abusive relationship is scary, especially if there are barriers to having a safe phone. If you are having trouble finding a safe way to communicate with others for support, below are some options to consider:

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Safety Planning Around Sexual Abuse

This post was written by Heather, a loveisrespect advocate 

All forms of abuse can be really difficult to experience. We know that survivors of sexual abuse often don’t want to talk about it, even if they have previously discussed experiences with other forms of abuse. If your partner has ever pressured or forced you to do anything sexually that you were not comfortable with or did not actively consent to, that is considered sexual abuse.

Is This Abuse?

Your body is yours, and whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, a hook up, a committed relationship or even a marriage, you are never obligated to give consent even if you have done so in the past. You get to make your own boundaries. A person can decide to stop any activity at any time, for any reason. If you don’t feel safe saying “no” then you have no room to say “yes.” If your partner pouts and begs until you finally say yes, that’s not consent. If they tell you that you’d have sex (or do any sexual activity) if you “really” loved them, that’s not consent. If your partner pretends not to hear you when you say no or stop, that’s not consent. Any response that disregards or minimizes your wishes when you turn down a sexual activity is not okay.

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After a Breakup: Your Tech Safety Checklist

Technology can be pretty awesome in a lot of ways. With a smartphone or a laptop and an internet connection, you can chat, message, share pictures or videos, and stay connected with anyone, anywhere in the world. But we all know that technology can also cause problems, especially for people in abusive relationships.

We’ve talked a lot about digital abuse while in a relationship, but if your relationship has ended, your safety is still important. Follow this tech safety checklist to create a few protective barriers for yourself after a breakup:

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