ANNAPOLIS, MD – On your way to college or already getting settled in? In addition to Ramen noodles, towels, and textbooks, the Governor’s Office of Crime and Control and Prevention wants college students to be prepared with something else: information on how to spot dating abuse or violence and what to look for in a healthy relationship.
“The line between love and abuse can sometimes get blurred,” said GOCCP Executive Director V. Glenn Fueston, Jr. “We want to help students sort out which is which so that they will know the difference and have information needed to spot a questionable relationship.”
Dating abuse, as defined by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and their project loveisrespect, is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. That pattern usually involves a series of abusive behaviors over a course of time. The Hotline has been on the front lines answering more than 4 million calls from people affected by dating abuse and domestic violence since 1996.
Some of the Warning Signs of Dating Abuse:
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly putting you down
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Explosive temper
- Isolating you from family or friends
- Making false accusations
- Mood swings
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Telling you what to do
- Pressuring or forcing you to have sex
“College students are going through such a transitional stage of life and for some, they are also experiencing intimate relationships for the first time,” said Katie Ray-Jones CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotlineand loveisrespect. “Studies show one in three of these relationships contain some form of dating abuse. When something isn’t feeling right, we hope college students will contact loveisrespect, where a trained advocate is available, night or day. We are just one call, text or chat away and available as a confidential resource for help 24/7.”
Loveisrespect provides information and support through online chat at loveisrespect.org, text (send loveis to 22522*) or by phone, 1-866-331-9474. “We applaud the Governor’s Office of Crime and Control and Prevention as they raise awareness on college campuses about dating abuse and healthy relationships. Loveisrespect is here to help all who are affected by dating abuse,” Ray-Jones continued.
What is a Healthy Relationship?
Open, honest and safe communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. The first step to building a relationship is making sure you both understand each other’s needs and expectations. Being on the same page is very important. That means you have to talk to each other! The following tips can help you and your partner 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 Each Other – Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value, and so do yours. 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 each other. 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.
- Healthy Boundaries – Creating boundaries is a good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By setting boundaries together, you can both have a deeper understanding of the type of relationship that you and your partner want. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel trapped or like you’re “walking on eggshells.” Creating boundaries is not a sign of secrecy or distrust — it’s an expression of what makes you feel comfortable and what you would like or not like to happen within the relationship.
Remember, healthy boundaries shouldn’t restrict your ability to:
- Go out with your friends without your partner.
- Participate in activities and hobbies you like.
- Not have to share passwords to your email, social media accounts or phone.
- Respect each other’s individual likes and needs.
In addition to tips for college students, a dating guide specifically for teens can be found here.