Relationship Status


Embed or link this publication


This booklet is produced by the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and is intended for teen audiences. The booklet discusses the ins and outs of supportive and controlling relationships.

Popular Pages

p. 1

© 2014 © 2014


p. 2

THANK YOU! A big thanks to Sam Carbaugh, cartoonist and illustrator, for lending us his skills to make this booklet more fun to look at. He created the cover art and the cartoons inside. You can find more of Sam’s work at: This booklet was originally the result of a joint project among AWARE, Clarina Howard Nichols Center, the DCF Family Services Domestic Violence Unit, the Morrisville DCF Family Services District Office, and the Rural Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Project. March 2000. Revised with input from the Youth Advocacy Task Force and staff at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the DCF Family Services DV Unit. October 2002, June 2004, October 2005, October 2007, October 2010, September 2011, September 2014. 2


p. 3

Table of Contents What Is This Book All About Supportive and Controlling Relationships? Relationships 101 Getting Together Dealing with Conflict Don’t Forget the Good Stuff Breaking Up Sex and Consent Sexual Violence Virtual Connections Sexting Digital Harassment Privacy Word Search You’ve Got the Power To Make It Better Reaching Out Resources 4 8 16 17 19 21 22 28 33 36 36 38 40 41 43 45 50 3


p. 4

What is this book all about? RELATIONSHIPS OF ALL KINDS. While we mostly focus on dating relationships, these skills can be applied to friends, family and other types of relationships too. Relationships can be exciting, complicated, super easy, really messed up, awesome, high stress, supportive, controlling, good, bad, serious, light hearted...the list goes on. Relationships come in all different shapes and sizes, and they can be hard to figure out. In this book we will talk about different relationship skills and tips to help you navigate your way towards a supportive and healthy relationship. There are stories, lists, activities, and resources to help you sort it out, know what to do if your friends need help, and find support for yourself if you need it. Who is this for? EVERYONE! No, really, EVERYONE. Regardless of your gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, sex, ability, hearing status, or whatever makes you you. Everyone enjoys a healthy relationship and we all need support in making them happen. 4


p. 5

You’re in a lot of “relationships” We all have connections with a variety of people in our lives, some romantic, some not. The information in this book can be used in all types of relationships because supportive relationships are all built of the same stuff:    Who do you have relationships with?  Friend  Best Friend/ BFF/ Bestie  Boyfriend/ Girlfriend/             Trust Communication Respect Significant Other Friend with benefits Make out buddy Special someone Crush Fling Classmate Teammate Sibling (brother, sister, step or half) Parent/ step-parent Grandparent Other family member Other: _______________ FYI: In this booklet, we have chosen to use “datemate”, “partner” and “b/gf/s.o.” (which stands for boy/ girlfriend/ significant other) to refer to people you might be dating or engaging in sexual activity with. 5


p. 6

Why do we need this information? Some young people are getting hurt in their relationships, either because one person is intentionally controlling, hurtful or harmful, or because the people involved just haven’t had a lot of relationship experience. They might not know how to talk to each other and navigate all the stuff that is needed to build something solid and supportive. When one person makes choices to repeatedly and intentionally hurt or control another person in a dating relationship, it is called DATING VIOLENCE. And when someone is sexually aggressive and forces unwanted sexual contact or advances on another without consent, that is SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND VIOLENCE. We hope that by talking about what a supportive relationship and healthy sexual contact looks like, we will prevent dating and sexual violence and people will have the tools they need to build safe and supportive connections with each other. If you are being hurt or are scared of being hurt by your dating partner, someone you’ve engaged in sexual activity with or anyone else in your life, OR if you’re scared you might be hurting someone emotionally or physically, THERE IS HELP. Check out the REACHING OUT section in the back of this booklet for more information. 6


p. 7

Did you know that...  In Vermont, 9% of High School students reported being physically hurt by someone they were dating or going out with, and 6% were physically forced to have sex. (Vermont Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2013)  More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2012)  Nationally, 44% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 18. (U.S. DOJ 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey) 7


p. 8

There are many words that are used to describe how relationships are working. Words like: healthy, positive, caring, loving, considerate, kind, fun, respectful and thoughtful are used to describe SUPPORTIVE relationships. relationship, In a SUPPORTIVE SUPPORTIVE relationship, both people people are equals. both equals. They:  don’t need to change to make the other happy  give each other space to hang out with friends and family or by themselves  feel safe bringing up things that make them upset and do so in a way that doesn’t make the other person feel bad  decide on what to do together or take turns  check in about sexual activity with each other often  make it comfortable for either of them to say no if one of them doesn’t want to do something The relationship makes them feel better about themselves WAY MORE than it stresses them out. 8


p. 9

THISIS IS WHAT WHAT EQUALITY LOOKS THIS LOOKS LIKE! LIKE! Respect Listens to you and doesn’t put down your ideas; supports your emotionally & values your opinions. Independence Safety Talks and acts so that you feel safe and comfortable expressing yourself doing things. Accepts that you have your own ideas, feelings and interests. Does not expect you to be an extension of them. Does not attempt to control you. Equality Negotiation & Fairness Willing to compromise and accept change. Trust & Support Honesty & Accountability Support your goals in life; respects your rights to your own feelings, friends, activities and opinions. Accepts responsibility for actions and for self. Admits wrongdoing and communicates with people openly and truthfully. 9 9


p. 10

For CONTROLLING dynamics, we hear words like: abusive, unhealthy, coercive, harmful, mean, bad, and messed up. In a CONTROLLING CONTROLLING relationship, relationship, oneperson person makes makes the one the other other person’s world world get smaller. person’s smaller. One person:  makes it hard for the other to hang with friends  says the other can’t wear certain clothes or go some places  makes the other person feel like there is no choice but to do what they want, their way all the time  doesn’t take their partner’s feelings seriously  may say things that pressure the other person into sex  threatens to hurt one or both of them  is sometimes really sweet or caring, but can flip out at any moment  is scary and makes their b/gf/s.o. feel they have to constantly watch what they say and do Sometimes there is no physical or sexual violence at all – but an ongoing feeling that violence may be possible. 10


p. 11

POWER AND AND CONTROL CONTROL POWER AbusivebehAvior behAvioris isnot notA A‘loss ‘lossof ofcontrol’ control’ Abusive orA A‘Anger ‘Angerproblem’, problem’, or ITIS ISA ACHOICE CHOICESOMEONE SOMEONEIS ISMAKING MAKING IT Used with permission from and adapted from the original Used with permission from and adapted from the original domestic violence P&CWheel Wheelof of the Domestic Abuse domestic violence P&C the Domestic Abuse 11 Intervention Project in Duluth, MN 11 Intervention Project in Duluth, MN


p. 12

Let’s look at a couple of stories to see how controlling vs. supportive choices look in dating relationships: Alex and Sam Sam and Alex are going out. They are psyched to spend A LOT of time together. They like to: hold hands, hangout, make out, watch movies, talk about their problems together, talk about the future, walk to class together, chat online and text each other. Things are going great. They go to a school dance together. When Alex goes to talk to some friends, Sam starts to dance with someone else. Alex sees this and has a choice about how to respond. Here’s what might happen... 12


p. 13

SUPPORTIVE Alex asks another friend to dance too. They all dance together! At the end of the night, Sam and Alex are making out in the car and things start getting heated up. Alex asks Sam if they could go a little further than last time. Sam says, “No, not yet, Ok?” Alex says “Cool” and they kiss more until it’s time to go. Sam loves how much more fun everything is when Alex is around. Alex likes meeting Sam’s friends and getting to know Sam better. CONTROLLING Alex pulls Sam away and out of the room. Alex starts to yell at Sam and says Sam can’t act that way with other people. Then Alex kisses Sam really hard and aggressively while holding Sam’s arms down. Alex then makes them leave saying it would be better to be alone. Sam thinks that the jealousy is a sign of affection at first. Alex doesn’t want Sam hanging out with anyone else and gets mad and gives Sam the cold shoulder if Sam does go out with friends. Sam stops returning friends’ calls and hanging out with them to avoid Alex’s bad reaction. Alex sends Sam texts all the time wanting to know what Sam is doing and who Sam is with. When Sam doesn’t answer them, Alex gets mad and starts saying that Sam “doesn’t care” about Alex and they should break up. Sam reminds Alex that Sam can’t answer all the texts because Sam’s parents put a limit on how many Sam can use. Alex doesn’t seem to care and keeps texting. 13 Alex texts Sam a lot. Sam doesn’t like it and asks Alex to chill out a little. Alex listens to Sam and asks how much texting feels ok.


p. 14

Jordan and Taylor Jordan and Taylor have been together for a couple of months. Jordan is into sports and plays on the school team. Taylor isn’t as into sports but supports Jordan. Taylor has a job at a local restaurant and tries to work as much as possible to save up for college. Sometimes Taylor’s work schedule conflicts with Jordan’s games and he can’t make it. Here is what might happen... CHECK IT OUT! You can link to an interactive power and control wheel and see video diaries that talk about each spoke of the wheel from a teen perspective. -scenarios/ 14


p. 15

SUPPORTIVE Jordan asks Taylor to be there as much as possible and offers to drive Taylor to the games and back if Taylor doesn’t mind getting there early for warm up. Sometimes Taylor has to work and can’t go to the game. Taylor usually texts a ‘good luck’ message to Jordan before the game though. CONTROLLING Jordan says Taylor needs to be at every game and that Jordan can’t play as well if Taylor isn’t there. When Taylor is scheduled to work at the same time as the next game, Jordan gets really mad and starts yelling, throws the soccer cleats against the wall and grabs Taylor’s phone to see the list of recent calls. Jordan doesn’t believe Taylor has to work and thinks that Taylor is cheating. Taylor starts to get pissed and yells back. They both yell for a while and then settle down. They start hugging and making out. Jordan says, “I can’t stand the thought of you leaving me” and then “You should quit your job.” Jordan texts the scores back to Taylor after the games Taylor can’t get to and sometimes stops by Taylor’s work for a quick hug. 15



no comments yet