Healthy relationships can improve all aspects of your life. They can strengthen your mental health and wellness, build connections, make life happier and more satisfying, and be one of the best supports in your life. But healthy relationships don’t always happen automatically. They take work and there can be ups and downs. All relationships are unique. If a relationship isn’t working, it can cause stress and strain. In this section we will look at what makes a healthy relationship, what are the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and when to reach out for help.

In a healthy relationship, the other person will:

Listen to you and take your feelings and ideas seriously

Talk openly and honestly with you about what matters to them

Never use threats of harm, violence or suicide to get his/her own way

Never hit, punch, kick, bite, slap, push or otherwise strike out in anger or jealousy

Not try to control what you do, where you go or who you talk to

Respect you, and say good things to you and about you

Enjoy spending time with you, and show it whether alone with you or in a group

Trust you, and earn your trust by keeping your confidences

Allow you to enjoy the activities and people that matter to you

Accept your limits about sexual activity, every time.

Keep your friendships and interests

Respect the right of your date or partner to set limits: “No means no.”

Do not tolerate any form of physical aggression including threats, slaps, pushes, pinches or punches

Know that violence is never the fault of the victim

Relationship abuse is a pattern of behaviour in a relationship. One person in the relationship uses abusive patterns to get power and control over the other person in the relationship. Sometimes the abuser might tell the victim that it is their fault, but abuse is never the victim’s fault.

If you or someone you know are experiencing domestic violence please call or text the province-wide, toll free Domestic Violence Helpline at 1-888-709-7090. This service is available 24/7.

Abuse in relationships can take many forms. It can be physical, sexual, emotional/mental/verbal, spiritual and financial and is under the umbrella of domestic abuse Domestic abuse can hurt any kind of person; it doesn’t matter what race, age, religion, social status, sexual orientation or gender you are.

Physical: Hitting, pinching, biting, blocking doorways, wrist holding, wall punching, etc.

Sexual: Coercing, not stopping sexual activity (even if one person said yes at first and than said no), using substances to coerce someone into having sex/initiating sex with someone who is under the influence of substances, unwanted touching or verbal harassment about someone’s body, sexuality, etc.

Emotional/mental/verbal: using insults or “jokes”, separation from friends and family, using jealousy as a controlling behaviour, guilt tripping, etc.

Spiritual: Making fun of, trying to change or diminishing someone’s spiritual beliefs

Financial: controlling and/or stealing someone’s money, bank/credit card, preventing someone from going to work or school, etc.

Everyone has the right to:

Express your opinions and have them respected

Make decisions about yourself and have equal decision-making power

Say “no” to physical closeness or any other activity that makes you uncomfortable, at any time, even if you originally said “yes” but now have changed your mind

Refuse a date at any time

Choose your own friends, and keep your friendships

Control your own money and possessions

Participate in activities that do not include your boyfriend or girlfriend

Have your needs be as important as the other person’s needs

Grow as an individual in your own way

Not have to take responsibility for someone else’s behaviour

Not be physically or sexually assaulted, or emotionally abused

Break up and fall out of love with someone and not be threatened or hurt