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When a family member abuses their partner: photo of two young women, standing near a window; one has her hand on her head and the other is comforting the first woman by placing a hand on her arm

“My Family Member is Abusing Their Partner! What Do I Do?”

By Anitra, loveisrespect youth organizer

At loveisrespect, we talk a lot about how to support someone you care about if they are being abused. But what if the person you care about is the one who is being abusive toward their partner? What if they’re a member of your own family?

This can be such a difficult situation to deal with. You might love your family member, but you know that what they’re doing is harmful. You may not want to admit that it’s happening, or you may just feel like cutting them out of your life. These are totally normal reactions! Relationships with family members can be complicated, and if someone is behaving abusively, that makes things even more complicated.

It’s important to remember that you have the power to be an active bystander. Ultimately, your family member is the only person who can choose to stop the abuse, but there are a few things you can do to encourage them to behave in healthier ways.

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dating after abuse: two young men sitting on a rock; one wears a hat and is smiling, the other has his arm around him and one hand on his shoulder

Dating After Abuse

Dating after being in an abusive relationship can be nerve-wracking and complicated. If you’ve experienced abuse, you might have more trouble connecting emotionally with potential partners, you might have a hard time trusting people or you might feel like your ideas about what is healthy/unhealthy in a relationship were warped by your abusive partner. These are all totally normal feelings to have, and it’s important to be gentle with yourself moving forward. Healing is a process. There’s no set timeline or “right” way to do it.

If you’d like to start dating again after experiencing abuse, here are some things to consider:

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lir-respect

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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Image for New Years Resolution young woman holding up a lit sparkler to the viewer

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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Photograph of a sunny windowsill looking out into a backyard with a potted plant in the foreground

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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Portrait image of a young woman with short black hair looking off to the side

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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Photograph of a young woman with brown curly hair sitting in a park, smiling and looking off to the side

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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holiday-safety-2

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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take-a-break

Making the Most of a Break

Sometimes you gotta take a step back from a relationship. You don’t want to break up exactly, but you just need…a break. Maybe there are too many other things going on in your life, maybe you and your partner just can’t get on the same page about something, or maybe you just need some space and time to yourself. A break can be a chance to gain some clarity about a relationship, or about yourself and what you want. It’s okay to take a break—in fact, it can be really healthy, as long as the relationship isn’t abusive (a break isn’t going to “solve” an abusive relationship). However, there are some things you might want to consider doing to make sure the break is the healthiest it can be.

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support-systems

Building Support Systems While in an Unhealthy Relationship

Sometimes building and maintaining support systems can be tricky in a relationship. Time that you would have usually dedicated to friends is now being spent on the relationship, or maybe your partner is getting jealous when you talk or hang out with others. It’s normal if these behaviors are making you feel lonely, especially if your partner asked you to not talk about your relationship to other people.

Feeling isolated because of your relationship is unhealthy and can even be considered an abusive relationship if your partner is actively trying to keep you from communicating with others. Feeling isolated can happen at anytime during a relationship, especially if you moved in with an abusive partner. Everyone deserves to have a support system, whether their relationship is generally pretty healthy or if their relationship has become abusive. If you are in an unhealthy relationship and are wondering how to build a support system you might ask:

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