To create and maintain a healthy relationship:
Speak Up. In a healthy relationship, if something is bothering you, it’s best to talk about it instead of holding it in.
Respect Your Partner. Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value. Let your significant other know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
Be Supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to your partner. Also, let your partner know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
Respect Each Other’s Privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. Healthy relationships require space.
HELP A LOVED ONE
- Their partner puts them down in front of other people
- They are constantly worried about making their partner angry
- They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
- Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
- They have unexplained marks or injuries
- They’ve stopped spending time with friends and family
- They are depressed or anxious or you notice changes in their personality
If someone you love is being abused, it can be so difficult to know what to do. Your instinct may be to “save” them from the relationship, but it’s not that easy. After all, there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships, and leaving can be a very dangerous time for a victim.
Abuse is about power and control, so one of the most important ways yo can help a person in an abusive relationship is to consider how you might empower them to make their own decisions. Additionally, you can offer support in various ways.
Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation. Be supportive and listen.
Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen.
Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims don’t leave abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions or try to make them feel guilty. They will need your support even more during those times.
If they end that relationship, continue to be supportive
Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
Encourage them to participate in activities outside the relationship with friends and family
Support is critical and the more they feel supported by people who care for them, the easier it will be for them to take the steps necessary to get and stay safe away from their abusive partner. Remember that you can call the hotline to find local support groups and information on staying safe.
Help them develop a Safety Plan
Check out our information on creating a safety plan for wherever they are in their relationship — whether they’re choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or have already left.
Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance
Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with them. If they have to go to the police, court, or lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support.
Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to get a referral to one of these programs near you.
Remember that you cannot “rescue” them
Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide and help them find a way to safety and peace.
The cycle of violence is a model developed to explain the complexity and co-existence of abuse with loving behaviors. It helps those who have never experienced domestic violence understand that breaking the cycle of violence is much more complicated than just “getting out” or leaving.
Over a period of time there may be changes to the cycle. The honeymoon phase may become shorter, and the tension and violence may increase. Some victims report that they never experience an apologetic or loving abuser, but simply see a decrease in tension before the start of a new cycle.
As the cycle starts, the victim starts going in and out of the relationship. It often takes many attempts to make a final decision to leave for good. Feelings of guilt, insecurity, and concern for children’s well-being play a strong role in the victim’s decision-making process.
The cycle of violence is a tool developed by researcher Lenore Walker and detailed in her book, The Battered Woman, published 1979. Walker created this tool to describe the cyclical nature of battering and its effect on victims.