Communication is an indispensable part of any healthy relationship. Good communication includes listening, taking time to have a conversation, respecting others’ opinions even when you disagree, and being honest, open and understanding. Good communication is respectful and does not include yelling, blaming, threats, demands, name calling, or threatening suicide if your partner leaves. These are examples of verbal abuse.
Trust is the key to any healthy relationship. Trust is created by mutual concern, honest and open communication, and shared decision-making and goals. Trust can be destroyed with jealousy, lies, or hurting your partner physically or emotionally. Trust is not isolating your partner from family and friends, or frequently accusing your partner of infidelity. This is emotional abuse.
Respect is fundamental to a healthy relationship. Respect is shown by gratitude, kindness, openness, consideration, and listening. Respect does not include disregard for another’s views or ethnicity, or forcing your partner to do something she or he does not want to do. Respect is not shown by hitting, kicking, scratching or biting your partner. This is physical abuse.
Patience is the foundation of a healthy relationship. Patience is the willingness to wait for another, controlling one’s temper, and tolerating those who are different or have limited capabilities. Patience does not include verbal or physical harshness, demeaning or controlling behaviors, or using physical violence to punish or intimidate. This is physical abuse.
Cooperation is necessary for a healthy relationship. Cooperation is working together as equals when making decisions, sharing household tasks and contributing to the welfare of the children in the home. Cooperation does not include inequality of responsibilities, blaming one another for relationship problems, or lying about or controlling money matters.
Individuality is a source of richness in a relationship. Individuality is expressing yourself, having your own friends, interests and hobbies, being comfortable to voice your opinions without being criticized, and allowing your partner to do so as well. Individuality does not include threatening, coercing, or forcing your partner to comply with your sexual demands. This is sexual abuse.
Leading by example is important to raising a successful family. Being an example teaches respect, work ethic, and social appropriateness and is not saying negative things about your partner, using physical force to get what you want, or neglecting the needs of your dependents. This teaches children that abusive relationships are acceptable.
Accountability is crucial in building healthy relationships. Accountability is assuming responsibility for your own actions, being dependable, following through with commitments, paying your debts and being honest. Accountability is not blaming someone else for your actions, or lying about what you have or have not done. Accountability is not one partner spending or withholding money meant for bills, food, or rent. This is economic abuse.
Freedom is a major factor in healthy relationships. Freedom is feeling safe to build relationships on your own, or to seek education and employment. Freedom is not being confined in one’s actions and ideas, or being restricted from access to friends and family. This is isolation, a type of abuse.
Honesty is essential to a healthy relationship. Honesty involves truthfulness, having integrity and being able to admit when you are wrong. Hiding things from your partner, having secret relationships, engaging in manipulation or coercion, making light of abuse or saying it did not happen, and shifting responsibility for abusive behavior is not honesty. This is emotional abuse.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an abusive relationship, please call the Domestic Violence LinkLine at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).