By Courtney Smith
SAFE San Juans Community Advocate
Whether it’s your family member or your friend, whether you’re casually hooking up or have been going out for a while, setting boundaries is an important part of any relationship. To have the healthiest relationship, both individuals should know each other’s wants, goals, fears, and limits. You should feel comfortable communicating your honest needs without being afraid of what the other person might do in response. If your family member, friend, or partner tells you your needs are stupid, gets angry with you or goes against what you’re comfortable with, then they are not showing the respect you deserve. See how your relationships fit into the healthy and unhealthy relationship characteristics in the box to the left.
It is important to know how you want to be treated. It is also important to know the signs of a controlling or abusive relationship. Though you yourself might not be in an abusive relationship, what about a friend, co-worker, peer, child, or a parent? By understanding the signs of an unhealthy relationship we can all make a difference in stopping domestic and dating violence!
One way is to move from being a bystander to be an upstander. An upstander is someone who might approach an individual who they see is in distress and let them know that they have noticed something is going on. They can use phrases like, “I noticed you haven’t been yourself lately” or “you seem upset” The upstander should not assume the individual is a victim of domestic or dating violence and should not press the individual to share private details, but should offer to listen and provide a list of resources if they want them.
It is also imperative that the individual knows that help is available in our community. As an upstander, you will need to know what resources your community has to offer. If you are well informed, you can show support with statements such as “if you ever need help, there are places you can go” or “if you need help, I can give you the name of an agency that can help you.” SAFE San Juans is here to help anyone who thinks they may be in an unhealthy relationship with services such as crisis support, individual advocacy, and getting people connected to other community resources to help them stay safe and meet their personal goals.
Remember, as an upstander you can:
• Reach out to someone in need.
• Be supportive and respectful of their decisions.
• Tell an individual that abuse is not normal and is not their fault.
• Focus on the person, not the abusive partner.
• Do not contact the abuser or post negative things about them online.
• Help your friend reach out to professionals, such as SAFE San Juans.