Relationship Status: Read This!


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Produced by the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, this is an essential guide to safe and supportive relationships for teens and young adults.

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thank you a big thanks to sam carbaugh cartoonist and illustrator for lending us his skills to make this booklet more enjoyable he did the cover art and a bunch of the cartoons inside the others are clip art bet you can tell the difference 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 2


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table of contents what is this book all about 5 what do supportive or controlling relationships look like 10 teen power and control wheel warning signs quiz how is your relationship sex sexual violence technology and media digital abuse word search safety planning reaching out resources 16 19 20 23 28 33 34 37 38 40 43 3


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what is this book all about relationships all kinds they happen everywhere ­ home school online on the phone everywhere they also happen to everyone relationships can be exciting complicated super easy really messed up awesome high stress supportive controlling good bad serious the list goes on in this book we explore how to know if you are being a supportive friend or partner what consent and coercion mean in sexual relationships how to know if the person you re in a relationship with is supportive or controlling what to do if you are worried about your or a friend s relationship relationships can be hard to figure out this book gives you lots of information to think about 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 5


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you re in a lot of relationships we all have relationships with a variety of people the information in this book can be used in all types of relationships because supportive relationships are all built of the same stuff trust communication respect who do you have relationships with best friend bff bestie practicing supportive relationships with friends and family will make it easier to have healthy dating relationships supportive relationships are more fun bfl boyfriend girlfriend friend with benefits hook up make out bed buddy sibling brother sister step or half parent other family member special someone crush fling classmate teacher pal partner study partner friend teammate other 6


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words words words there are so many words that are used to describe how relationships are working for supportive relationships we hear words like healthy positive caring loving considerate kind fun respectful and thoughtful for controlling dynamics we hear words like abusive unhealthy coercive harmful mean bad and messed up we use lots of these words in this book but mostly supportive or controlling boy girl straight gay it doesn t matter this book is for you everyone is included gay straight lesbian transgender bi queer or questioning people with disabilities and people who are deaf or hard of hearing just so you know because we wanted to include everybody and all kinds of relationships this book uses gender neutral language not using him or her all the time 7


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why do we need this information things aren t good and people are getting hurt we want to give you the tools so that you don t hurt someone or get hurt and you know what to do if you are worried about someone how to be an active bystander did you know that 44 of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 18 u.s doj 2004 national crime victimization survey approximately 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner silverman et al dating violence against adolescent girls and associated substance use unhealthy weight control sexual risk behavior pregnancy and suicidality journal of the ama vol 286 no 5 2001 8


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on the next few pages you ll see how the choices that people make sometimes without seeing them as choicesaffect the people they are in relationships with where do we learn this stuff lots of things impact our choices media culture family and friends choices are shown as cool or entertaining this kind of entertainment gives us the messages that some kids grow up in it is normal or families or communiacceptable to force ties where they see manipulate or adults or older siblings using pressure someone into someviolence or threats to control thing they don t want to do and limit someone else s including sexual activity choices it s not they may learn that it is ok for one person to emotionally and physically hurt another some of them not all may go on to make those choices in their relationships and be bullies or hurt other people unfortunately there are a lot of bad examples of how to act out there and few that show us true respect for another person the good news is we can all learn to make we often see tv movies vid healthy supportive noneo games or music videos violent choices in where cruel and violent our relationships 9


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what do supportive or controlling in a controlling relationship one person makes the other person s world get smaller one person makes it hard for the other to hang with friends says the other can t wear certain clothes makes the other person afraid makes the other person feel like there is no choice but to do what they want their way all the time may say things that pressure the other person into sexual activity threatens to hurt one or both of them if they don t get their way is sometimes really sweet or caring for a little while but can flip out at any moment 10


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in a supportive relationship both people are equals they both 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 how do your relationships make you feel 11


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let s look at a couple of stories to see how controlling vs supportive choices look in a dating relationship 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


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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.


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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 as much as possible 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 here is what might happen what kinds of things would you like to do with someone you are dating 14


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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 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 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 15



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