Neepa Parikh
SHEC Media

 

So you think you’re in a perfect relationship. You’re clearly in love with your new partner and you are both really close. But how do you know if you’re relationship is a healthy one? Fear not,  I have some answers for you.

First, let’s define a healthy relationship. It’s one that has trust, honesty, mutual respect, support, fairness and equality. It’s one in which both partners have separate identities, and in which there is open communication. In contrast, an unhealthy relationship is one in which a partner is mean, disrespectful, controlling or even abusive.

Unhealthy relationships can manifest themselves as dating violence. Violence usually begins with verbal and emotional abuse, which can be difficult to identify at times, and can progress to physical and sexual abuse. Some questions to ask yourself are, does your partner try to control you? Does your partner make you feel bad about yourself? Does your partner attempt to keep you from seeing your friends or from talking to other people? Does he or she criticize the way you look or dress? Do they ever raise a hand as if to hit you during an argument? Do they force you to perform sexual acts?

Dating abuse is more common than you think. Often, people who are experiencing abuse don’t talk about it. The silent victims may come from a violent home and thus do not see the violence as abnormal. They might feel that the abuse won’t happen again. They might even feel embarrassed or be afraid to tell anyone.

It can be really confusing. The qualities that might make a person abusive might even be qualities that you admire at first. It can be tempting to make excuses or misinterpret violence, possessiveness or anger as an expression of love. Sometimes you might even think that you’ve done or said something wrong and that it is your fault. Try to remember that this isn’t the case. Nobody deserves to be abused verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically. Abuse is always the abuser’s fault.

The longer you stay in an unhealthy relationship, the more damage it will do to your self-esteem. Ending an unhealthy relationship always beings with admitting to yourself that there is a problem. Once you’ve overcome that hurdle, talk to someone about how you can end the relationship. If you’re not sure if you’re in an abusive relationship, try talking to a friend or family member. Someone on the outside might be able to see the signs of abuse more clearly.

Not sure exactly who to talk to about your relationship? There are plenty of resources in at McMaster and in Hamilton to help you overcome abuse. Both SHEC peer volunteers (MUSC 202, ext. 22041) and the Campus Health Centre (MUSC B101, ext. 27700) offer counselling services. If you know that you are being physically or sexually abused, you can also visit the Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Care Centre located in the McMaster University Medical Centre (905-521-2100 ext. 73557), which can provide free and confidential counselling and, if necessary, medical care.

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