Modeling Healthy Relationships and Healing from Traumatic Ones

This is the time of year when we must remember that every relationship doesn’t look picturesque. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to amplifying voices and experiences in relationships and to helping differentiate between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive ones. The tagline, Love is Respect, isn’t reserved for teens or young adults alone, it applies to everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Therefore, we at Family Scholar House work with our participants to bring awareness and support, year around. 

Our version of romance is often influenced by media and our personal experiences. If we’re not able to have open conversations about what qualifies as healthy versus unhealthy relationship behavior, cycles of abuse continue to happen. For example, some people glorify partners being in constant contact with one another versus talking on the phone once a day. Others might think it’s acceptable for partners to use cell phones for tracking purposes. While no two relationships look the same, all relationships should have key elements like respect, equality, trust, honesty, communication, and consent. 

A common reason participants come to us is because they have experienced some form of domestic violence or trauma. We, in turn, focus on empowering them through self-love and helping them build community. We teach them that self-love isn’t just spa days but it’s setting boundaries, validating ourselves and our feelings, and learning new healthy ways to cope with the situations and traumas that often make us vulnerable to unhealthy interpersonal relationships. Recognizing that our worth isn’t tied to our relationship status but inherent in who we are. When working with participants who have experienced dating or domestic violence, we use our language and actions to create trust and provide a safe space. For example, we ask questions like do you mind if we shut the door? Is it safe to contact you via email and phone? We show up for them, believe them, and take all the care we can to deliver services to our participants. With permission and confidentiality, we share lived experiences from others, to help the next person that may be experiencing the same. Our job as staff is to be the expert in options/resources/safety planning, to assist in empowering the individual to identify the best solution/assistance for them. Family Scholar House not only meets a participant where they are but helps them to get where they dream to be. 

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