It’s happened: you’ve met that person you want to spend the rest of your life with, or perhaps you are just meeting up for coffee and a movie. You meet a lot of people here on campus, and it’s a place where many new relationships form. Hopefully these relationships will turn out wonderfully. Unfortunately, not all relationships are so great. October was domestic violence awareness month. Now that October has passed, you shouldn’t forget how important a healthy relationship is.
Because of misconceptions about domestic violence, many people have trouble recognizing what is, or may become, a violent relationship. There are warning signs. Does your partner ever belittle you in front of your friends and family, or call your ideas or goals stupid? Does your partner say that you are nothing without them, or try to prevent your own activities? Does your partner ever treat you roughly, even in small ways such as grabbing or pinching? Do they make you account for the money you spend? Do they pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to? Do they ever threaten to hurt you or themselves?
These are all signs of a violent and unhealthy relationship. Unlike a healthy relationship based on mutual respect and an equal partnership, an unhealthy relationship is based on the power and control one partner exerts over the other.
In a healthy relationship, the people involved respect each other. They each understand that the other person is an individual, accepting and respecting each other’s differences of opinions. They trust one another and expect honesty. Good communication is key. They explain when something is wrong and appreciate the good things the other person has done.
Unhealthy relationships are not always abusive. However, they still result in a lot of bad feelings. If someone is disrespecting the person they’re with, extremely jealous or suspicious, these are elements of an unhealthy relationship. Please consider how you and your partner treat each other. Are you honest with each other? Do you trust one another? Do you try to solve disagreements without insulting each other? Everyone deserves respect and equality in their relationships.
If you think you are in an unhealthy relationship, you should consider accessing some resources on and near campus to see what assistance they can give you. If you think you are in a violent relationship, or if you are being abused, you need to get out now. Abuse does not go away, it is not caused by temporary stress, drug problems or mental illness. It is never the victim’s fault. Domestic violence is not a “loss of control,” it is a deliberate way to take control over someone. Batterers use violence to have power over an intimate partner. If you are being abused, you need to leave that relationship now for your own sake.
UMaine Public Safety: 581-4040
Safe Campus Project: 581-2515 or www.umaine.edu/safecampusproject
UMaine Counseling Center: 581-1392
Betsey Pinkham is the vice president for Students for a Safe Campus.