Healthy Relationships

Below you will find information and resources that can help you understand the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. 

What is a Healthy Relationship?
  • Laughter & having fun together
  • Some common interests
    • But, healthy relationships involve separate interests/friends/identities
  • Self-esteem and mutual respect
  • Trust (not jealous or possessive)
  • Honesty
    • Goes hand-in-hand with trust - it is difficult to trust partners who are not honest
  • Open communication 
  • Willingness to find common ground & shared decision-making 
    • Disagreements/arguing can occur, but partners should be able to talk things out and work toward a resolution
  • Fairness/equality
  • Feeling free to be yourself 
What are Your Rights in a Relationship?

If you are in a relationship, you must be treated with respect, which means your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/significant other:

  • Is willing to compromise
  • Lets you feel comfortable being yourself
  • Is able to admit being wrong
  • Tries to resolve conflict by talking honestly
  • Enables you to feel safe being with them
  • Respects your feelings, your opinions, and your friends
  • Accepts you saying no to things you don’t want to do (like sex)
  • Accepts you changing your mind
  • Respects your wishes if you want to end the relationship

When someone loves you, you feel valued, respected, and free to be yourself. You shouldn’t be made to feel intimidated or controlled 

Unhealthy Relationships

Potential warning signs that you may be in an unhealthy relationship that you should be aware of - if your partner:

  • Is jealous or possessive of you - he/she gets angry when you talk to or hang out with other people
  • Bosses you around, makes all the decisions, tells you what to do
  • Tells you what to wear, who to talk to, where you can go 
  • Is violent around other people, gets in fights, and/or loses temper often
  • Pressures you to be sexual when you do not want to be 
  • Uses alcohol and/or other drugs and tries to pressure you
  • Swears at you or uses mean language
  • Blames you for his/her problems, tells you that it is your fault that he/she hurt you
  • Insults you or tries to embarrass you in front of other people (or while no one else is around)
  • Has physically hurt you
  • Makes you feel scared of their reactions to things
  • Calls to check up on you all the time and wants to know where you are going and/or who you are with 
What is Abuse?

An abusive relationship may include any of the signs of abuse previously mentioned. Some people think that their relationship isn’t abusive unless there is physical fighting, but there are other types of abuse. Below is a list of different types of abuse which can affect both your friendships and dating relationships:

  • Physical Abuse - when a person touches your body in an unwanted or violent way
    • You are being PHYSICALLY ABUSED if someone:
      • Pushes or shoves you
      • Slaps or hits you
      • Pulls your hair
      • Kicks or punches you
      • Restrains you with force
      • Chokes you
      • Throws objects at you 
      • Abandons you in a dangerous place
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse - when a person says or does something that makes you afraid or feel bad about yourself
    • You are being EMOTIONALLY ABUSED if someone: 
      • Ignores your feelings 
      • Withholds approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment
      • Continually criticizes you, calls you names, shouts at you
      • Makes all decisions for you
      • Wants to control all of your actions
      • Humiliates you in public or private
      • Ridicules your most valued beliefs, your religion, race, or heritage
      • Manipulates you with lies and contradictions
      • Subjects you to reckless driving 
  • Sexual Abuse - any sexual contact that you do not want 
    • You are being SEXUALLY ABUSED if someone:
      • Makes demeaning remarks about your gender
      • Calls you sexual names
      • Forces you to take off your clothing
      • Touches you in ways that make you feel uncomfortable
      • Forces you to have sex against your will
      • Treats you and members of your gender as objects
      • Insists you dress in a more sexual way than you want to dress
      • Insists you dress less sexually
      • Minimizes the importance of your feelings about sex
      • Accuses you of sexual activity with others 
  • Financial Abuse - when a person uses finances to gain power and control
    • You are being FINANCIALLY ABUSED if someone:
      • Forbids you to work 
      • Controls how all of your money is spent
      • Withholds money or gives you an “allowance”
      • Sabotages your work or employment opportunities by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace or causes you to lose your job by physically battering prior to important meetings or interviews
      • Does not allow you to access bank accounts
      • Does not include you in investment or banking decisions
      • Forbids you from attending job training or advancement opportunities
      • Forces you to write bad checks or file fraudulent tax returns 
      • Runs up large amounts of debt on joint accounts
      • Refuses to work or contribute to the family income
      • Withholds funds for you or your children to obtain basic needs such as food and medicine
      • Hides assets
      • Steals your identity, property, or inheritance
      • Forces you to turn over public benefits or threatens to turn you in for “cheating or misusing benefits”
      • Files false insurance claims
      • Refuses to pay or evades child support or manipulates the divorce process by drawing it out by hiding or not disclosing assets
Dating Violence

Here are explanations of each phase of the Cycle of Violence: 

  • Honeymoon Phase - Many abusers act loving and kind in the beginning of a relationship. They express their love and make their partners feel special and cared for.
  • Tension-building Phase - This is where tension begins to build in a relationship. This phase can last from several hours to several months. There may be arguments, emotional abuse, or physical abuse like grabbing/pushing.
  • Explosion (or Blow-up) Phase - This is when the abuse is at its worst. It may or may not include extreme physical or sexual violence.
  • Back to the Honeymoon Phase - After the “explosions” the abuser may apologize, be very loving, and promise it will not happen again. The abuser is usually very convincing during this phase. The partner will often try to “forgive and forget” what happened. Unfortunately , the cycle usually repeats itself and the abuse gets worse. 

Here is a list of early warning signs to be aware of:

  • Extreme jealousy
    • Everyone gets jealous sometimes; the key work is “extreme.” Both boys and girls can become extremely jealous. Signs of extreme jealousy are when you partner gets mad if you talk to other people, have good friends, or express warm feelings for anyone else. The jealous person may withdraw, sulk, or become angry and abusive. 
  • Possessiveness
    • This becomes a danger sign when someone treats you as if you are a belonging. The possessive person will not want you to share your time or give you attention to anyone else.
  • Controlling Attitude
    • This happens when one partner completely rules the relationship and makes all of the decisions. Your point of view is not important. Often the controlling partner tries to tell the other how to dress, who to talk to, and where to go.
  • Low Self-Esteem
    • In a dating relationships a person with low self-esteem may say, “I’m nothing without you,” or, “You are my world.” Although these may be great song lyrics, they’re not great lines for real life.
  • Unpredictable Mood Swings
    • Nobody stays in the same mood all the time, but a dramatic shift from being jealous, controlling, or angry to being sweet, charming, and loving is another danger sign.
  • Alcohol and Drug Use
    • Many of the reported violent episodes in dating relationships are carried out when one or both partners have been drinking or doing drugs. Alcohol and drug use lower a person’s self-control but are not the direct cause of violence.
  • Explosive Anger
    • Even if you have never seen someone being aggressive toward another person, watch out for people who seem to get too angry. These people may hit walls or lockers, yell loudly, call names, or actually threaten others with violence.

Click here for more information on Power & Control vs. Equality

How to Leave the Relationship

If you think that you are in an unhealthy relationship, you should first talk to a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, coach, or other trusted person about the relationship. Tell them why you think the relationship is unhealthy and exactly what the other person has done (hit you, pressured you to have sex, tried to control you through fear). If necessary, this trusted person can help you contact your parents, the Health and Wellness CenterPublic Safety, or even the police.

Sometimes, leaving the an abusive relationship can be dangerous so it is very important for you to make a Safety Plan. Leaving the relationship will be easier and safer if you have a plan. Tell the person who is abusing you that you do not want to see him/her or break up with this person over the phone so they cannot touch you. 

Additionally, you should:

  • Go to your doctor or hospital for treatment if you have been injured
  • Keep track of any violence by recording dates violence happened, where you were, exactly what the person did, and exactly what effects it caused (i.e. bruises). Take photos of physical effects. This will be important if you need the police to issue a restraining order against the person.
  • Avoid contact with the person
  • Spent time with other friends - do not walk by yourself
  • Think of safe public places to go in case of an emergency
  • Call 911 immediately if you are ever afraid that the person is following you or is going to hurt you. 
How to Help an Abused Friend

If you think a friend is in an abusive relationship, here are some things you can do to help:

  • DOs
    • DO voice your concerns. Be specific; refer to actual incidents you have witnessed and not the relationship in general. Let her/him know what you say how it made you feel and how you see the behavior having an impact on her/him.
    • DO talk in private and keep the conversation confidential.
    • DO let her/him know you care and that s/he does not have to face the situation alone.
    • DO acknowledge your friend’s confused feelings. Try not to tell your friend how to feel and recognize that it is still possible to love someone who hurts you.
    • DO encourage your friend to talk with a trusted adult such as a counselor about how to get help.
  • DONTs
    • DON’T be judgmental. Try to understand that your friend is confused because s/he is frightened by the violence, but wants the love or security from being with the partner.
    • DON’T put down the abuser. It’s okay to talk about the abusive behavior but if you “trash” the partner, your friend may feel unable to trust you. 
    • DON’T shame her/him or ask blaming questions.
    • DON’T give ultimatums (i.e. “It’s him or me!”) to try to force your friend to break up with the partner.
    • DON’T insist on taking control. The decision to leave is not yours. The goal should be to help your friend take back control of her/himself.
    • DON’T take this on alone!

Remember: if you think someone is in immediate danger, call 911. 

If you think the possibility of danger exists, speak with an understanding adult such as a parent, friend, counselor, or Public Safety officer.

Do You Have a Problem with Abuse?

Have you ever thought that you may be behaving in a way that could be physically or mentally harmful to your partner? These behaviors are often difficult to recognize if you are the one doing them - but acknowledging that you may be hurting your partner is the first step in moving toward a healthier relationship.

Check in with yourself: How do you act toward your partner?

  • Do you…
    • Get angry or insecure about your partner’s relationships with others (friends, family, coworkers) and feel possessive?
    • Frequently call and text to check up on your partner, or have them check in with you?
    • Check up on your partner in different ways? (Ex. Reading their personal emails, checking their texts)
    • Feel like your partner needs to ask your permission to go out, get a job, go to school, or spend time with others?
    • Get angry when your partner doesn’t act the way you want them to?
    • Blame your anger on drugs, alcohol, or your partner’s actions?
    • Find it very difficult to control your anger and calm down?
    • Express your anger by threatening to hurt your partner, or actually physically doing so?
    • Express your anger verbally through raising your voice, name calling, or using put-downs?
    • Forbid your partner from spending money, or require that they have an allowance and keep receipts of their spending?
    • Force or attempt to force your partner to be intimate with you?
    • Blow up in anger at small incidents or “mistakes” your partner makes?

How does your partner react?

  • Do they…
    • Seem nervous around you?
    • Seem afraid of you?
    • Cringe or move away from you when you’re angry?
    • Cry because of something you don’t let them do, or something you made them do?
    • Seem scared or unable to contradict you or speak up about something?
    • Restrict their own interaction with friends, coworkers, or family in order to avoid displeasing you?

If any of these behaviors sound familiar to how you act or how your partner reacts, it could be a red flag that you may be hurting them. This can be a difficult and unnerving realization to come to.

By acknowledging now that your behaviors might be questionable and taking responsibility for them, you are a step ahead in beginning to correct them. 

If you are someone who is abusive towards your partner, there are a number of resources available to you:

  • Call or come to the Health and Wellness Center (847-735-5240) or access the Crisis Counselor-on-Call (224-501-1621). The Health and Wellness Center is a confidential place to seek assistance. 
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)


If you are in an abusive relationship there are a number of resources available to you:

  • Call or come to the Health and Wellness Center (547-735-5240) or access the Crisis Counselor-on-Call (224-501-1621). Counseling Services is a confidential place to seek assistance. 
  • Call Public Safety (847-735-5555)
  • Call the Title IX Coordinator (847-735-6009)
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
  • Visit the International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies for a global list of helplines and crisis centers
  • Visit for domestic violence resources for immigrant women. Also available en Espanol.


April 2016
Poster Campaign Toolkit