Forming and keeping relationships should be fun and rewarding. A healthy relationship involves two people who feel good about themselves and each other. It allows for differences of opinions, accepts privacy and allows equal sharing of power and control. Basically, it is a calm relationship, not a frantic one, and it should be happy, enjoyable and rewarding.
Some relationships may start off healthy, but become unhealthy. Signs that a relationship is becoming unhealthy can be subtle. One partner may start to criticise or publicly humiliate the other and the criticism may start to become nastier. One partner may try to control the other by controlling finances or controlling how the other person behaves, what they wear or who they see.
The first signs of relationship violence are not necessarily physical – they may take the form of intimidating or controlling behaviour. Some people confuse this behaviour for love. Love is not any of these things. Emotional abuse can hurt as much as physical abuse and can be very destructive.
Physical abuse and violence is a growing problem in our communities. It can be anything from holding, shoving, pushing or burning another person to punching holes in walls or doors, or throwing things around.
Having a sexual relationship should always be a choice that is made by both partners. Sexual abuse in a relationship occurs when one person forces sex on the other, or demands or tricks the other person into doing sexual things.
Before you get into a relationship, make sure that you know yourself. Healthy relationships allow you time and space to maintain your own life and pursue your own interests, as well as enjoy the time you spend together.
Don’t be shame. If you or someone you know is experiencng relationship violence, call the confidential helpline on 1800 200 526 or go to www.australiasaysno.gov.au where there is loads of information for young people, parents and community on identifying and avoiding abusive and violent relationships. It also tells you other places to seek help.