In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I want to share one of the most powerful tools you can have at your disposal to prevent you or someone you know from being a victim of domestic violence: your rights in a relationship. Once you know what these are, you can recognize when they are being violated and do something about it.
You've heard of rights in the workplace, civil rights, consumer rights, and so on, but "relationship rights"? Yes, you have rights in ALL areas of your life, including your relationship. You have treatment and dignities that you are entitled to and deserve. I call these the "Relationship Bill of Rights". These rights, created by Love Is Respect, are the following:
If your partner demands to know your password to your phone, social media, etc., you have the right to tell them no. You do not have to tell your partner what the conversations are that you are having with friends and trusted others. You have a right to keep whatever you want private and to yourself.
This may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes we end up in situations where we stay with a partner because we love them (or think that we do), but at the same time, we feel unsafe and disrespected. These may sound like polar opposites, but that does not mean they cannot coexist. It's possible to love someone and to feel scared of and disrespected by them.
If someone is pressuring you into dating them or another person, you have the right to make that decision for yourself. This can be very difficult sometimes, especially if the people pressuring you are loved ones, like your parents. However, it is ultimately your decision who you let into our life in a romantic and intimate way.
Anything other than this is rape.
Just because you are in a relationship with someone does not mean you have to have sex with them whenever they want. Just because you are in a relationship with someone does not mean that you have to take drugs or drink alcohol when they do or when they tell you to. Just because you are in a relationship with someone does not mean you have to stay in that relationship.
This is one of the most complicated ones that people struggle with a lot. It has become somewhat of a norm for people to tell their partners who they can and can't spend time with because of a fear of cheating. Oftentimes, we don't want to make our partner feel uncomfortable and so we comply with these requests. However, down the road, the insecurity that is behind this jealousy lingers and grows and can lead to isolation and resentment/anger if you do hang out with others. A boundary needs to be set early on in a relationship that all parties have the right to hang out with whoever they want to when they want to.
Ending a relationship might be one of the hardest things you ever have to do. Don't let your partner who you are ending the relationship with tell you that you do not have the right to leave them. It's your life and you have the right to live it how and with who you see fit.
This may seem like another obvious one, but again, sometimes we end up in vicious cycles in our relationships that result in violence and abuse. Because this cycle often comes back to positive qualities or experiences that seem to "outweigh" the bad, we might choose to stay in the relationship. However, you have the right to be in a relationship and to live a life that is free from violence and abuse, no matter how "good" the "good times" are.
..no matter what your partner or anyone else says, no matter what your negative self-talk says, and no matter what happened in your past.
If you feel that any of these rights are being violated and/or you are in crisis, contact these organizations for FREE and CONFIDENTIAL support and information:
Text: LOVEIS to 22522
Call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Call: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)