Healthy Relationships & Abuse

Healthy Relationships & Abuse

Hospital lobby
  • Is my romantic relationship healthy?

    Every relationship is unique, and ultimately, you are the best judge of your own situation and relationship. But real talk, here’s what everyone deserves to have in a relationship: 


    • Mutual respect
    • Open and honest communication
    • A foundation of trust
    • An equal say in making decisions that affect the relationship 
    • Support and encouragement
    • Emotional and physical safety 
    • Healthy boundaries 
    • A healthy balance between together time and flying solo time 
    • Good communication and conflict resolution 

    

    Phew! The list sounds long, but YOU deserve all of it! If you have concerns about your relationship, it can be helpful to seek the advice of a trusted friend, family member, or professional counselor who can provide support and guidance just for you. To learn more, take our quick healthy relationship assessment here: Is my relationship health?

  • Have I experienced coercion or abuse?

    Coercion means someone has used force, threats, or manipulation to make someone else do something against their will. Abuse is behavior that is used to gain (and maintain) power and control over another person in a relationship. It can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. 


    Every relationship is different, but sit with this and try to recognize how it feels to you. How does answering this question feel in your body? If you feel like you’ve experienced coercion or abuse, consider reaching out to a trusted friend, family member, or a professional counselor or therapist who can provide you with support and guidance. They can help you assess your situation, explore your feelings and options, and provide resources to help you navigate through it. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, check out our resource page here.

  • How do I know and communicate my own physical and emotional boundaries?

    Understanding and establishing your own physical and emotional boundaries might feel like a moving target, but figuring it out pays off, big time! If something feels off, or like it’s messing with your boundaries, it’s okay to take a step back and say so. You can say that you’re not feeling comfortable, or you’re not into that, or that you’re not into such-and-such right now, or just… no. Remember, “No.” is a complete sentence. You don’t have to justify or apologize for setting a boundary.

  • How do I recognize abuse?

    This is tough. Abuse is behavior that is used to gain (and maintain) power and control over another person in a relationship. While every situation is unique, here are some signs that may indicate potential abusive behavior that a person may show: 


    • Showing excessive jealousy or possessiveness
    • Trying to control your actions and decisions
    • Regularly criticizing or belittling you
    • Using anger and intimidation to scare you
    • Isolating you from support networks
    • Monitoring your conversations or socials, or invading your privacy
    • Being physically violent or threatening
    • Touching you or asking you to touch them in ways that you don’t feel comfortable with 

    

    It's important to trust your instincts and take any concerns about controlling or abusive behavior seriously. If you notice these red flags in your relationship or in someone else's, consider seeking support from a trusted friend, family member, or a professional counselor. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, check out our resource page here.

  • If I'm assaulted or raped, what should I do?

    We’re so sorry that you’re in this position; no one should ever have to experience this. We’re here to help you. Before we get started, it’s important to define what assault and/or rape is. Assault is any non-consentual sexual contact, and rape is non-consensual sexual penetration. Here are a few options for what you can choose to do next. 


    • You can call a trusted friend or family member who can support you. 
    • It might feel unnatural, but try not to shower or change your clothes right away. If you’re able, seek medical attention ASAP and ask for a sexual assault forensic exam (a.k.a. a rape kit). These assessments may vary from state to state, but they are intended to collect enough evidence to bring your perpetrator to justice IF you choose to press charges. You are in control here. These exams may feel invasive because they involve collecting photographs or DNA from your body to preserve evidence. It’s up to you if you want to pursue this; there’s no wrong answer here. You can find clinics that can support you through our service finder here.
    • After you’ve addressed any immediate medical needs, consider contacting a helpline or support service. We have consolidated some resources here. Remember, you don't have to go through this alone. There are resources available that can provide guidance and help you navigate the process of healing and seeking justice.

  • How do I talk to my partner if they do something that makes me uncomfortable?

    Partnership is all about communication. If your partner did something that made you feel uncomfortable, tell them. 

    • Try telling your partner that you were uncomfortable, why you felt that way, and what you want to do next. 
    • They should listen to your feelings, and you should listen to their response to see how receptive they are. Are they trying to understand where you’re coming from, or do they dismiss you or get defensive? 
    • If they are constantly making you feel uncomfortable, then you might want to think through reestablishing your own boundaries or thinking more about if you are in an abusive relationship.

  • How do I walk away from an abusive relationship?

    You have the power and agency to walk away from abusive relationships. In fact, walking away from an abusive relationship is a courageous and empowering step towards reclaiming your safety and wellbeing. You do NOT have to settle for any situation where you feel unsafe, fearful, or unloved.


    Think about prioritizing your safety, reaching out to a supportive network of friends, family, or organizations, cutting off contact, and focusing on self-care and healing. You don't have to go through it alone—reach out for assistance, stay focused on your safety, and believe in your ability to create a better future for yourself.

  • How do I tell a friend that I think they're in an abusive situation?

    This is tricky. It’s okay to voice concerns you may have, but be sure to take a non-judgmental position. 

    • Tell your friend that you are coming from a place of compassion. (Because you are!)
    • Use “I” statements to express your concern, such as, “I feel: (emotion) when: (scenario/behavior) because: (reason).” This could sound like: “I feel worried when I hear about what you’ve been through, because I don’t think their behavior towards you is okay.” 
    • At the end of the day, this is about starting a conversation, not solving the problem right then and there. It can take a long time for someone to come to terms with the situation they are in, accept the situation, and be ready to acknowledge it. 
    • The most important thing you can do for a friend in this situation is to let them know that whenever they are ready, they can come to you and that you will not judge them. You will just be there to listen and support them.

  • How do I help a friend out of an abusive situation?

    If a friend comes to you asking for help leaving an abusive relationship, they have placed a lot of trust in you. Here are some things to consider. 

    • It’s important to understand that leaving takes time. Your friend might not leave their partner immediately–or even at all–and this can be really hard to see. Stay compassionate and curious about what they want to do. 
    • If you think or know that your friend is in physical danger, you may need to consider calling in reinforcement. Find another trusted friend, relative, or adult in your lives to talk to and start planning.
    • Find resources in your community to help. 

  • What is consent?

    You’ve probably heard of consent, but what does it actually mean? General consent means that you give permission for something to happen. In sexual scenarios, consent means that in a sober state of mind, you enthusiastically agree to specific sexual activities without coercion (i.e. without feeling forced to say yes, or like you “owe” your partner anything). 


    The most important thing to know is that no one can touch your body without your permission. You and your partner should be checking in with each other about what feels good and safe while you’re doing it. It might feel weird at first to talk about this stuff out loud, but it should start to feel natural with more practice. There is zero shame in telling your partner what you want and don’t want. 

  • What is consent within boundaries?

    Consent should be given for specific actions. It’s okay to consent to some things and not to others. If someone goes beyond your designated boundaries without your consent, that is non-consensual. Make sure to always ask for consent before touching someone, starting a new touch, or a new activity. 


    Here are some examples:

    •  I can consent to a back rub, but I do not want my feet touched. If my partner still touches my feet after I asked them not to, that is non-consensual. I am allowed to stop, get up, and leave.
    • If I’m hooking up with my partner and they touch me somewhere on my body that I don’t like, I can move their hand to somewhere I feel more comfortable. Or off my body entirely. I can also say, “I’d like you to touch me here instead,” or “It makes me uncomfortable to do that.” Or simply, “Please stop.”
    • I can say to my partner that I want to have sex, but only with a condom on. If my partner still insists on not using a condom, it is my right to get up and walk away without having sex with them.

  • What is sexual assault?

    Sexual assault is sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include unwanted sexual touching, forcing someone to perform a sexual act without their explicit consent, penetration without consent (also known as rape), or coercing/manipulating someone into sexual contact. Pressuring someone into sexual contact is a crime; simple as that.

  • If I'm sexually assaulted or raped, what should I do?

    We’re so sorry that you’re in this position; no one should ever have to experience this. We’re here to help you. Before we get started, it’s important to define assault and rape: Assault is any non-consentual sexual contact (including rape), and rape is non-consensual sexual penetration. 


    Here are a few options for what you can choose to do next:


    • You can reach out to  a trusted friend or family member who can support you. 
    • It might feel unnatural, but try not to shower or change your clothes right away. If you’re able, seek medical attention ASAP and ask for a sexual assault forensic exam (a.k.a. a rape kit). These assessments may vary from state to state, but they are intended to collect enough evidence to bring your perpetrator to justice IF you choose to press charges. You are in control here. These exams may feel invasive because they involve collecting photographs or DNA from your body to preserve evidence. It’s up to you if you want to pursue this; there’s no wrong answer here. You can find clinics that can support you through the RAINN website here.

    

    After you’ve addressed any immediate medical needs, consider contacting a helpline, textline or support service.  We have consolidated some resources here. Remember, you don't have to go through this alone. There are resources available that can provide guidance and help you navigate the process of healing and seeking justice.