“You belong to me”
Sound like familiar, sweet sentiments? They can be. Yet some practice a love that is about control and ownership instead of mutual support. Healthy love is about respect, equality and there is a sense of peace within it. Unhealthy relationships are marked with jealousy, fear, guilt, coercion and control.
I like the excitement of our relationship- he’s so cute when he’s jealous of the other guys I talk with.
Jealousy itself is not abuse. But it’s a warning sign. For many victims of domestic violence, their relationship started out with a bang. Romance and roses, true love, true connection. Then their partner started asking questions that made the other partner hang out with friends and family less. This leads to isolation of the victim from people who can help them.
Emotional abuse can begin with little putdowns that add up. Irritations become common and one partner begins to dominate the tone of the relationship. One day, a flare-up occurs and they get really angry – scary angry. When conducting danger assessments, professionals note if escalation occurs -it is an increased risk factor.
Victims often minimize this process because it takes place over time. They don’t see the connection between events. They don’t see their isolation as a form of power and control, and before they know it, they have no one to turn to. Perhaps their partner is a person of influence or has an economic advantage that makes it difficult to speak out or leave the situation. Even friends can participate in minimization- especially if they only know the public side of the abusive partner.
Good news for communities
The good news? Most people engage in healthy relationships. Most people know they will have to share their love for their partner with their partner’s friends and family. Most people are in a relationship because they respect their partner as an equal, not as someone to dominate.
Valentine’s Day is by design an emotional day. For happy couples, it is a day to celebrate their love for each other in a special way. For others it can be a reminder of the love that’s missing from their life. Still others would say this holiday was just invented to sell greeting cards and candy!
Share your love
Reach out to friends you know might need a little boost on February 14th. If someone you know has questions about the health of their relationship, have them give SOS a call at 800-825-1295 or 620-342-1870. For more information about the cycle of violence, click here. Other resources for people feeling down this time of year can include a simple doctor visit to check all aspects of their health. If you live in Lyon County, you can visit the local health center for a check-up (sliding-scale fees apply.)
Mental health care is a key aspect of health. Sometimes just talking with a friend can help you work out what action you want to take. Sometimes you could benefit talking to someone new, perhaps a health professional. Multiple community resources such as the Mental Health Center of East Central Kansas or Community Counseling Services are available. Private practice individuals can help as well. Talk to your friends about to see if they have a recommendation for a good therapist, social worker, or licensed professional counselor.
Remember, we are all responsible for taking care of ourselves, loving ourselves and being kind and loving to others. Use this Valentine’s Day as a reminder to touch base with your own heart and ‘love the one you’re with’- yourself!