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Red Deer College

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Counselling Services

Counselling services and supports are inclusive, confidential, and available to all RDC students free of charge.

Relationships

undefinedHealthy relationships allow both people feel loved, respected, supported, and connected but still feel independent. Individuals deserve to feel safe in a relationship. 

Characteristics of a healthy relationship: Respect, honesty, communication, boundaries, acceptance, equal decision making, support, and shared goals, beliefs, and values. 

Characteristics of a destructive relationship: Pressure to change, distrust, fear, lack of support, restrictions, criticism, anger and jealousy. 

 


Communication and boundaries are two major components of a healthy relationship. 

Communication allows you and your partner to have a deep understanding of each other, and allows you to connect. In a healthy relationship with good communication, both partners (National Domestic Violence Hotline, 2020):

5 tips for effective communication: communicate, simplify, listen, illustrate, and affirm.

  • Treat each other with respect
  • Speak openly to one another about thoughts and feelings
  • Feel heard when expressing feelings
  • Listen to each other and compromise
  • Do not criticize each other
  • Feel supported to do the things they like
  • Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes

 

undefinedBoundaries allow each person to express to their partner what they are and are not comfortable with, when it comes to sex life, finances, family and friends, personal space and time. In a healthy relationship with boundaries, both partners:

  • Allow each other to spend time with friends and family
  • Do not abuse technology to check on a partner
  • Trust each other and not require their partner to “check in”
  • Do not pressure the other to do things that they don’t want to do
  • Do not constantly accuse the other of cheating or being unfaithful

Ways to enjoy a healthy relationship:

Assume responsibility for your happiness.

Healthy relationships enhance your happiness. They are not solely responsible to achieve your happiness. 

Make time.

Enjoy quality time together- Sharing hobbies and enjoying fun activities together is important.

Speak assertively.

Conflict in relationships is inevitable, but it's important to share your feelings and needs respectively and assertively. 

Laugh together.

Humour is the best medicine- It can deepen a relationship between partners and balance out negativity. 

Allow for space.

Spending time apart from your partner is important in developing separate identities and interests. 

Forgive.

Without forgiveness, you risk accumulating issues over time and building resentment and anger towards your partner.

Foster a healthy and respectful sexual connection.

Sex can foster a loving connection in an intimate relationship, but it requires trust, honesty, and respect. A healthy sexual relationship is always consensual. 

Instill trust.

Minimize behaviours that may arouse doubt or suspicion in your relationship (Love Is Respect, 2017). 

 

Helpful Resources

 Healthy LGBTQ+ Relationships 

A healthy relationship is a healthy relationship regardless of your sexual orientation. View this handout for more additional information regarding LGBTQ+ relationships.

 How Can I Communicate Better?

Part of being in a healthy relationship is having good communication. Here are some helpful tips.

 Love is Respect

A website with information, resources, handouts, and blogs on relationships.

 Setting Boundaries

Boundaries are an important component of a healthy relationship. Here are some helpful tips. 

 

Types of Abuse

Domestic violence is violent or aggressive behaviour within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. 

 

Abuse is any action that intentionally harms or injures another person, which does not necessarily occur within intimate partner relationships. 

 

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone; it does not discriminate. It can happen within heterosexual relationships, same-sex partnerships, friendships, and work relationships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more often victimized, men also experience abuse—especially verbal and emotional (Help Guide, 2019). 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Recognizing the Warning Signs of Abuse

People who are being abused may:

  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing
  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner
  • Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness

People who are being physically abused may:

  • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”
  • Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the
  • summer or sunglasses indoors)

People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

  • Be restricted from seeing family and friends
  • Rarely go out in public without their partner
  • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car

People who are being abused may:

  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident
  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn)
  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern or cycle of violence.

undefined

Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. This treatment is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.”

Guilt – Your partner feels guilt after abusing you, but not because of their actions. They’re more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for their abusive behavior.

Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what they have done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for provoking them—anything to avoid taking responsibility.

“Normal” behavior – Your partner does everything in their power to regain control and ensure that you’ll stay in the relationship. A perpetrator may act as if nothing has happened, or they might “turn on the charm.” This peaceful honeymoon phase may give you hope that the abuser has really changed this time.

Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about repeating the abuse. They spend a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how they’ll make you pay for it. Then they form a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.

Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts their plan in motion, creating a situation where they can justify abusing you.

break the cycle

Helpful Resources

 Can I Stop Being Abusive? 

If you are abusive toward your partner, the first and hardest part of changing is admiting your behaviour is wrong. Use this handout to help get on the right track. 

 Living With Your Abuser

Living with an abusive partner can crate additional obstacles to getting help. Here are some steps you can take to help stay safe. 

 What is Domestic Violence & Abuse?

This handout describes characteristics of domestic violence and abuse, as well as information on how to speak up in any given situation.

Most sexual assaults do not involve a stranger attacking in a dark alleyway or park, contrary to popular belief and portrayals of sexual assault in popular culture. Most cases of sexual assault are committed by someone close to the victim. While young and otherwise vulnerable women are most likely to be sexually assaulted, sexual assault can happen to anyone, at any age, including men and women, boys and girls. It can happen on one single occasion, or it can happen repeatedly. Sexual assault is a crime with serious consequences. It can cause anxiety, depression, destroy a person’s sense of self-worth, rob them of their sense of trust and security, ability to maintain relationships and enjoy sex, and can haunt a victim for the rest of their life. If the abuse is frequent, committed by a family member, or involves sexual intercourse, the impact can be even stronger. Sexual abuse often makes victims feel alone, worthless, confused, and afraid (Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre, 2020).

200,000 assaults happen every year in Canada

Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.

It is an act of violence committed by a person in order to feel power over another person. It can come in different forms:

  • Sexual touching of any kind that is unwanted or coerced, including kissing or groping.
  • Rape means being forced to have vaginal, oral or anal intercourse against your will or without your full consent.
  • Acquaintance sexual assault is when a person is attacked by someone they know such as a classmate, neighbour or friend. Date rape is a specific type of acquaintance sexual assault which occurs when a person is attacked by someone they know and may be interested in (like a partner).
  • Other forms of sexual violence include sexual harassment, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and unwanted sexting.

Remember sexual assault survivors are never at fault. It doesn’t matter what someone is wearing or how they are acting, victims are never to blame. A person may use force, threats, manipulation, or coercion to commit sexual violence. An absence of injuries to the victim does not indicate consent.


What is Consent?

Consent for any sexual activity must be freely given. Consent cannot be given by someone who is intoxicated, unconscious, or otherwise considered incapable of giving their consent. Consent can also not be freely given if it follows from threats to personal safety, or threats to harm others (Healthline, 2020).

Consent is:
  • Clear - Consent is clear and unambiguous. Is your partner enthusiastically engaging in sexual activity? Have they given verbal permission for each sexual activity? Then you have clear consent.
  • Ongoing - You should have permission for every activity at every stage of a sexual encounter. It’s also important to note that consent can be removed at any time as people do change their minds.
  • Coherent - Every participant in sexual activity must be capable of granting their consent. If someone is too intoxicated or incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, or is either not awake or fully awake, they’re incapable of giving consent. Failure to recognize that the other person was too impaired to consent is not “drunk sex.” It’s sexual assault.
  • Voluntary - Consent should be given freely and willingly. Repeatedly asking someone to engage in a sexual act until they eventually say yes is not consent, it’s coercion.

Helpful Resources

 Sexual Violence Survivors 

A toolkit for friends and family of sexual violence survivors. 

 What is Sexual Violence?

Learn more about how to prevent, manage, and access help for sexual violence. 

Alberta's One Line for Sexual Assault

1-866-403-8000

A 24-hour text or call support service for individuals looking for support or referrals to specialized sexual assault service providers.

 

Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre

1-866-956-1099

A 24-hour text, online chat, or call support service.