This is the fourth and final part of my educational series on domestic violence and abusive relationships. Too often people forget that manipulation, emotional, and verbal abuse are still forms of abuse and should not be tolerated in any relationship.
During this educational series on domestic violence and unhealthy relationships, I shared with you my friend’s story and how the cycle of domestic violence works, a quiz on how to tell if you or someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, and ways women get trapped in abusive relationships. In each one of the posts, I shared resources for how to help a friend in an unhealthy relationship and tips on how to leave an abusive relationship.
After focusing so heavily on unhealthy relationships, I thought I should dedicate this last post on what constitutes a healthy relationship. Sometimes we can get so lost that we don’t even recognize what healthy, normal relationships are anymore. We can forget how we deserve to be treated or that we’re worthy of love. Below are the foundations for a healthy relationship, according to Laura’s House domestic violence crisis advocate training program.
Four Necessary Elements for a Healthy Relationship
TRUST – There must be mutual trust in a healthy relationship. Both partners can be counted on to be honest and reliable. It is far wiser to choose a partner who is trustworthy in the first place than to find someone dishonest and hope to change them. Each of you can have outside friends and interests without constant accusations of cheating, etc. Trust is earned over time. You do not have to automatically trust just anyone. You can pick and choose whom you believe seems trustworthy, and then allow them to gradually earn your trust based on their actions.
HONESTY – Honesty and trust go hand-in-hand. If you catch your partner lying to you, it will become harder and harder to believe what they say to you. This breaks down the level of trust in the relationship. In domestic violence, many batterers are extremely jealous, suspicious, or controlling. It is not unusual for a person to be emotionally abused or physically injured for things like talking to a member of the opposite sex because their partner imagines that they are flirting or even cheating on them. In cases like this, a person finds themselves lying to avoid abuse. This is not the same as being a truly dishonest person. In domestic violence, lying sometimes becomes a survival skill.
RESPECT – For most couples, respect seems to be the hardest to define and the trickiest to keep in the relationship. There is a subtle difference between showing respect to someone and having respect for someone. Displaying good manners or being polite are examples of showing respect. But to truly have respect for someone, you also need to admire them a little and how they live their life.
EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL SAFETY – To have a loving, nurturing, healthy relationship, there must be safety. Obviously, if your partner has pushed, kicked, shoved, hit, or assaulted you in some way, there is no peaceful assurance that there is physical safety with this person. If your partner threatens you, makes fun of you, humiliates you, laughs at you, deliberately discloses sensitivities to others, etc., there is no emotional safety.
These four elements all interlock with one another. Without trust, there is no respect. Without honest, there is no trust. In domestic violence, there is almost never any trust, honesty, respect or safety. Without these, how would you define a healthy relationship?
Again, if you (or someone you know) are in an abusive relationship, help is available. Call the national domestic violence hotline at 866-498-1511.
If you think this may help someone, please share it. Thanks.