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Relationships

We have a lot of different kinds of relationships in our lives. Our relationship with ourselves is one of the most important, because we will have this relationship our whole lives. It can be helpful to work towards having a healthy, caring and compassionate relationship with ourselves.

We also have relationships with friends, family, our community, people at school or work, and the land that we live on. Part of having a healthy relationship with ourselves is knowing what being in healthy relationships with others looks like. This includes being able to set healthy boundaries with the people in our lives as well as respect their boundaries.

Dating and/or romantic relationships can exist on a spectrum, from healthy to unhealthy and sometimes abusive. In a healthy dating relationship, all people have equal power and are involved in decision making. We also need mutual respect and trust to maintain healthy relationships with the people in our lives. If important things like respect and trust are missing, it may be an unhealthy relationship. If there is fear, threats and/or physical, sexual, financial, emotional/mental or spiritual abuse happening, then it often is an abusive relationship.

To figure out where your relationship might fit into the spectrum, check out the “Relationship Spectrum” activity at loveisrespect.org. http://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics/relationship-spectrum/.

Healthy Boundaries

Setting emotional and physical boundaries with people in our lives is an important part of creating healthy relationships. Talking about boundaries allows people to be aware of each other’s needs and comfort levels. This sets up a basis of respect in which the relationship can feel safe and healthy for both people.

What do healthy boundaries look like & feel like?

  • Feeling comfortable communicating about what you want and don’t want
  • Respecting what your partner wants and doesn’t want
  • Recognizing when you are happy and unhappy
  • Being excited and interested in learning new things and in your own hobbies and projects
  • Having personal boundaries that apply to everyone
  • Having a partner that adds to your excitement in life, but is not the only source of excitement
  • Encouraging others to have boundaries too
  • Feeling safe and secure
  • Being aware of your choices and honouring your feelings and intuition while respecting their feelings
  • Recognizing that you have the right to protect your privacy without having to lie or feel guilty
  • Being able to negotiate in a fair way (while maintaining boundaries & values that are important to you)

In order to build healthy relationships, we need to work on communicating our own boundaries as well as respecting other people’s boundaries. Sometimes this means learning healthy ways of working through our own emotions. This could mean talking to someone we trust like a counselor or family member about it, or engaging in an activity that helps us reflect and let go like writing, art, walking, etc. Sometimes it can be hard to deal or accept our partner’s boundaries, when they are not in line with what we want. Dealing with feelings of rejection or disappointment can be challenging and are also a normal part of life.

Examples of healthy communication in setting boundaries:

1.While it’s important to spend quality time with your partner, it’s also important to make time for yourself, your friends and your family too! This means being able to tell your partner when you need time alone. Both people should feel free to hang out with friends or family without their partner.
Example:
Your partner wants to hang out with you and your friend today. You were looking forward to spending some one on one time with your friend, catching up and going to a movie together. Here is how you could respond:
Partner: “Can I come to the movie with you and Alex today?”
You: “Actually, I think Alex and I are just going to get some friend time in today to catch up one on one. Maybe we could go to a movie together next week though.”
Partner: “Oh, no problem. I understand. Hope you two have fun!”
You: “Thanks. Talk to you later”

2. When it comes to sex and intimacy in a relationship, people get to decide what they feel comfortable with and set boundaries around what they want and don’t want. Communicating about comfort levels, likes and dislikes and asking for consent before doing anything are really important for creating fun and comfortable sexual experiences for both people. Communication is also essential for building respect, trust and ultimately healthy relationships. Check out our Consent section for more information!
Example:
You just started dating someone. You want to kiss them, but you don’t want it to go any farther at this point. Here is how you could respond:
You: “Hey, I’d really love to kiss you, do you want to?”
Partner: “Yes, I’m into that.”
You: “Okay great, I think that’s as far as I want to go right now though. “
Partner: “That’s fine. Whatever you’re comfortable with sounds good to me. ”

3. Everyone has a right to privacy in a relationship. This includes social media and phones. People get to keep their passwords, text messages, phone, snapchat etc. private. Both people are independent and deserve respect in a relationship. This includes respecting that each person has their own life, hobbies, friends and right to privacy. It’s not okay to go into a person’s phone or social media accounts without asking for permission. It’s also not okay to expect to have access to a partner’s phone and social media.
Example:
Your partner asks to use your phone; they want to check out your photos and snap chat and want to know your password so they can get into your phone. You don’t feel comfortable sharing your password and feel weird about them looking through all your stuff. Here is how you could respond: Partner: “I’m bored. Hey, can I look through your photos and snapchat? What’s your password?”
You: “Ummm, I’m not really comfortable with sharing my password and other people looking through my phone. You can look at my snapchat post through your account though. “
Partner: “Okay. That’s cool. I totally respect your privacy. “
You: “Cool. Thanks. Can I show you some pictures of that cute dog I saw yesterday though?”
Partner: “Yes!”

It’s important and okay to have boundaries that are not negotiable and if a partner isn’t respecting your boundaries, pressures you to do something that just doesn’t feel right, or they try to control you in some way, that’s not okay.

Some things you can do if your partner isn’t respecting your boundaries:

  • Talk to them about it. Tell them to stop. Tell them how they are not respecting your boundary and that this is not okay. (If you feel safe)
  • If it doesn’t feel safe to talk to them about it or they continue disrespecting your boundaries after you’ve talked to them about it, it may mean the relationship is unhealthy or abusive. If this is happening, it’s important that you get support and talk to someone about it or make a break-up plan. (See the Abuse & What to do section below)
  • Talk to someone you trust about it. You could talk to a friend or family member, a guidance counselor, elder, or a counselor in your community.
  • Call a phone line to talk about it as well as to get more information and resources, Kids Help Phone is 1-800-668-6868, they also offer online or ap-chat Wednesday-Sunday or the Klinic Crisis Line is 204-786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019.

Healthy Relationships
Positive relationships where people feel safe and respected are good for our emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health. In terms of dating relationships, we all have different things we want in a partner or from a dating situation because we are all attracted to and want different things. However, there are some basic qualities that everyone’s list should have in common, such as respect, consent, trust, honesty, and healthy boundaries. Healthy relationships can be a source of happiness and help people to feel connected.

Everyone’s list might look a little different, but some things you might want in Healthy Relationships include:

  • Mutual Trust – This means that you trust your partner and they trust you. You trust each other to respect the boundaries and agreements you’ve committed to in your relationship. You have faith that you will treat each other in a kind and caring way. Trust is often something that develops over time and the people build together in a relationship.
  • Respect – Respect means treating the other person with kindness, as a worthy and valuable being. It means that you treat them well and honour their integrity, rights and independence.
  • Honesty – Being honest often means telling the truth, but more than that it’s also about being true to yourself, honoring yourself, and communicating about who you are and what you need or want in a relationship.
  • Equality – This means that both partners have equal power and say in the relationship. It means that emotional and physical workloads are shared.
  • Good communication – Communicating openly and kindly can take practice. You can practice being assertive about your needs and wants every day including during a conflict and also by listening to your partner’s needs and wants and by negotiating fairly. The more you practice communicating the better you will get at it.
  • Kindness
  • Boundaries (link to boundaries section)
  • Care & Compassion
  • Patience
  • Support
  • Affection
  • Attraction
  • Quality time together
  • Time apart
  • Safety

Make your own list! Having our own personal list of what a healthy relationship means for us can make it easier to figure out what we want in a relationship and what we don’t want. It can also help us think about what kind of partner we want to be and assess what we are good at already and what we might need to work on. Creating healthy relationships is a process and we are all learning. Building healthy relationships does take work, but they should be fun and enjoyable too! We don’t always see good examples of healthy relationships in our lives or in media, so it’s important to find good role models or seek out more examples. Everyone deserves healthy, positive and caring relationships.

Healthy Break-ups
You have a right to end a relationship at any point. Sometimes it’s the healthiest choice we can make. A relationship doesn’t have to be unhealthy or abusive to end. Sometimes healthy relationships come to a natural conclusion too.

Some signs that it may be time to break up are:

  • Feeling annoyed a lot or uncomfortable
  • Arguing a lot (even over little things)
  • Feeling like you’ve grown apart or want different things
  • Having different levels of affection
  • Liking somebody else
  • Not feeling interested or into your partner / the relationship anymore

Some tips for healthy breakups* are:

  • Use assertive communication. Ideally tell your partner first hand, not through other people or social media.
  • Be honest and kind about why you want to end the relationship.
  • Consider your partner’s feelings. Recognize that “guilting” or begging a person into staying is not healthy or helpful to either person.
  • Negotiate status changes and implications for social networking sites.
  • Consider taking a break from social media.
  • Don’t spread rumours after the break up.
  • Try to stay respectful (no matter what your ex is doing or saying.)

*If there is abuse happening in a relationship, this list might look different. See the “Abuse & What to do” section.

Regardless of whose idea it is to end the relationship, break ups can be difficult. It is important to take care of yourself, get some supports, and work to accept what has happened. If you don’t seem to be bouncing back (feel depressed), it may be a good idea to talk to someone you trust about it.

Abuse & What To Do
If someone is experiencing abuse, it is never their fault. It is always the fault of the person choosing to use abuse. Abuse is often about one person trying to control or take away someone else’s power. If you know about abuse that is happening, or if you are experiencing abuse, tell an adult you trust. Youth in Manitoba can also use crisis lines* for support.

  • The Klinic Crisis Line is 204-786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019
  • Kids Help Phone is 1-800-668-6868, they also offer online or ap-chat Wednesday to Sunday
  • Klinic Sexual Assault Crisis Line is 1-204-8631 or 1-888-292-7565.

*All of these are free and open 24 hrs, 7 days a week.

Some types of abuse are:

Emotional / Mental / Verbal: Using insults, putdowns, or “jokes”, keeping someone away from their friends and family, using jealousy to control, using manipulation, guilt tripping, playing mind games, making threats, etc.

Sexual: Coercing, pressuring or trying to change someone’s no into a yes, not stopping if someone wants to stop any kind of sexual activity, getting or waiting for someone to be drunk or high in order to have sex with them, any unwanted touching or any verbal harassment /comments about someone’s body, sexuality, etc., sending someone unwanted sexy texts, pictures, nudes, or forcing someone to send them.

Financial: Stealing someone’s money, bank card, credit card, etc., bribing, keeping someone from going to work or school, forcing someone to work, trying to control what someone does with their money, or wrecking someone’s things.

Spiritual: Making fun of someone’s spiritual beliefs, making someone feel like they can’t practice their spiritual beliefs, prayers or ceremony’s, or forcing someone to change their beliefs.

Physical: Hitting, pinching, biting, “play fighting”, threats, using intimidation, restraining (blocking doorways, holding wrists, etc), throwing objects, punching walls, trashing space or objects.

What can you do if you are experiencing abuse?

  • Remember that it is never your fault.
  • If someone has experienced a sexual assault, it is never their fault, and they deserve support and help. The Klinic Sexual Assault Crisis Program offers support and counseling through their phone line, (204)-786-8631 or 1-888-292-7565. They also offer in-hospital support for medical exams, advocacy, legal support and in-person counseling services.
  • Tell someone that you trust about what is going on. This could be a family member, close friend, counselor, elder, teacher or phone line, like the Manitoba Klinic Crisis Line, 1-888-322-3019 or Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868.
  • Go for counselling somewhere that will help you and be non-judgmental. For people in Manitoba, the Klinic Crisis Line (1-888-322-3019) can let you know what options you have.
  • Make a safety plan for yourself. If you decide to end the relationship, try to do it in a public place with lots of people around. If you’re deciding to stay in the relationship, your safety plan could include having a bag packed in case of emergency, having a list of people you can call and safe places to go any time of day.
  • Make a break-up plan. If you are ready to end the relationship, make a plan to ensure your safety including when, how and who you can talk to or spend time with for support.
  • Do things that make you feel good about yourself as it can be hard to feel good when you’re being treated badly.

What can you do if a friend is experiencing abuse?

  • Let them know it is not their fault.
  • Listen without judging the other person.
  • Be supportive and don’t try to control or criticize them as that will make them less likely to get help.
  • Check in with them as much as you can.
  • Tell an adult you trust.
  • Encourage them to call a phone line, talk to a counsellor or visit a teen clinic.
  • Talk to someone about it yourself, because it’s hard seeing a friend in that situation.

Often people find it hard to talk about abuse because they don’t know how other people are going to react. That means it’s important to be open and non-judgmental, so people don’t keep abuse a secret.

What can you do if a friend is using abuse?

Sometimes people think that if you are witnessing abuse or disrespectful behavior you only have two choices: get physically involved or do nothing. In reality, getting physically involved often leads to the abuser further hurting their partner or ‘getting them back’ later. It is important to do something, because by doing nothing we are telling the abusive person that what they are doing is okay.

Here are some ways that you can intervene in any situation. Remember, we should always think about our safety, the safety of the person experiencing abuse and the safety of the people around us. For example if someone is using abusive language you could:

  • When alone, ask your friend how they are feeling about the situation because their behaviour is probably coming from a place of hurt or anger. Let them know you aren’t okay with what is happening.
  • Offer them support and help to change.
  • Share resources & information with them
  • Some things you can say to a friend who is using abuse could be:
    •  “feeling upset is ok, but your behaviour isn’t”
    • “that’s not cool.”
    • “I believe that you can work on yourself and do better.”
    • “I don’t like seeing you act that way”
    • “I see this causing problems for your relationship and for you”
    • “I can’t stand by and watch you continue to hurt someone and I feel like this is driving a wedge between us”
    • “You are not a bad person, but your behavior is harmful and unhealthy”
  • Check in with their partner and ask how they would like to be supported.
  • Role model positive ways to be in a relationship.
  • Tell an adult that you trust.
  • It’s important to take care of yourself. Someone who is using abuse deserves support and care; however we can’t always be the ones to provide that. You have the option to give them resources and take space away from that friendship. Especially if it’s impacting you in a really negative way because your friend is not taking responsibility for their behavior, has continued abusing their partner or other people, or they are using abuse & manipulation on you.
  • If you choose to stop hanging out with your friend who uses abuse, you could say something like ““It hurts me to say this, but I don’t think I can stay friends with someone who’s hurting others and themselves like this”. You can also let them know if they are ready to stop and need help & support, you will be there for them.
  • Reach out for support. Supporting a friend can be difficult so we need to reach out for non-judgmental support from friends, family, teachers, or guidance counsellors we can trust. Teens in Manitoba can call the Klinic Crisis Line (204-786-8686) or go for free drop-in counselling in Winnipeg at Klinic (545 Broadway).

What can you do if you are using abuse?

  • Take responsibility and admit to yourself that you have a problem.
  • Talk to someone you trust about it like a counsellor, support group, family member, friend, or phone line, etc.
  • Try to learn different ways of communicating and expressing your feelings.
  • Learn your triggers such as noticing when you start to get angry by your face turning red, clenching teeth or fists and what you can do to stop yourself..
  • Leave the relationship, and give the other person space.
  • Work on changing your behavior. (It is possible, remember that you are not bad person but have bad behavior.)

Some Resources

http://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationships/setting-boundaries/

http://www.loveisrespect.org/for-someone-else/is-my-relationship-healthy-quiz/

http://www.srhweek.ca/healthy-sexuality-healthy-relationships/key-ingredients-for-healthy-relationships/

Questions about Relationships

How common is abuse in teen relationships?
Generally speaking, many teen relationships are not abusive and have the potential to be really healthy. Unfortunately, we also know that abuse can and does happen in teen relationships, which means we need to take it seriously. Abuse can happen in boy-girl relationships, or in same sex couples (two boys dating or two girls dating), it can also happen between friends and family members. All forms of abuse are serious. If someone has been abused remember that it is never your fault. There are places you can call or go for help if you or someone you know is being abused: a school guidance counselor; trusted family member; teacher; friend; or a phone line like the Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868), or in Manitoba, the Klinic Crisis Line (204-786-8686/1-888-322-3019).
Why are people abusive to their partners?
It’s a good question that doesn’t really have an easy answer. Most often abuse happens when someone wants to control their partner and they use emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and/or spiritual abuse to get that control. When people act abusively, they are making a choice how to behave. How someone grew up, being drunk or high, or feeling angry or jealous is never a valid excuse for abuse. Abuse is always wrong, and it is never the fault of the person being abused.

If someone realizes they’re acting abusively, it is possible for someone to change their behaviour. Changing abusive (or unhealthy) behaviour isn’t easy, but if people work at it and find support they can learn new and healthier ways of being in a relationship. If someone has used abuse they can talk about how they are feeling with a guidance counsellor, trusted family member, teacher, friend, or a phone line like the Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868), or in Manitoba, the Klinic Crisis Line (204-786-8686/1-888-322-3019).

For more information on what abuse is scroll up to the top of this page.

How do you know if you are in an abusive relationship?

Some examples of abuse are really easy to spot. For example, with physical abuse, most of us know it’s not ok to hit, shove, slap, or otherwise hurt a partner. But other forms of abuse can be harder to see like emotional or sexual abuse. We listed some of the ways abuse can happen in a relationship (to see more examples, scroll up to the top of this page)…

    • Insults and name calling
    • Criticizing your clothes, your friends or the way you look
    • Following you around, texting/phoning you all the time and demanding to know where you are
    • Trying to stop you from seeing your friends or family
    • Hitting, shoving, pinching, slapping you, or throwing things
    • Threatening to hurt you or themselves if you leave
    • Blaming you for the hurtful things they say or do
    • Trying to force you to have sex

If you feel like you may be in an abusive relationship, talk to someone about it. You can talk about a relationship with a guidance counselor, at a teen clinic, with a trusted friend or family member, or in Manitoba, use the Klinic Crisis Line (204-786-8686/1-888-322-3019), or Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868). Talking about it can help you sort out your feelings and help you get support.

If you’re abused as a child, would you become abusive when you’re older?
When someone is abused as child, it can be very traumatic and affect them in a really big way. One of the biggest impacts of growing up in an abusive household is that unhealthy relationships can be made to look normal. This is why it’s important for all of us to learn what a healthy relationship looks like so that we can all make healthy choices in our lives. It’s never a child’s fault if they were abused. In fact, many people who experience abuse when they’re younger decide that they never want anyone else to be abused like they were.

Is it possible to have a relationship without any form of abuse?
This is such an important question and yes, it is possible! Respect, fun, support, understanding, time apart/time together, attraction, and affection are all qualities of a healthy relationship. Knowing what the qualities of a healthy relationship are can make it easier to see when things are unhealthy. The list of healthy qualities can be long and at Teen Talk we encourage you to make your own list and keep adding to it. You can make this list before you start dating or at any time, and keep it handy to remind yourself of what you want from a relationship. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship, and should expect one.

Having a healthy relationship takes work too, and we can’t expect it to be perfect all the time. It can help to find other healthy relationships to model ourselves after. This can be difficult, because we don’t always see healthy relationships on TV or in the world around us. When you see couples in real life or in the media, ask yourself, is that what I want for myself? Are they being respectful? Does seeing the way they treat each other make me feel good or bad? The more we see other people treating each other well and working at having healthy relationships, the more we feel inspired to work at having healthy relationships for ourselves.

How do I know if my relationship is healthy?
Great question! Healthy relationships can help us feel better about ourselves and our place in the world. Anyone who is ready to date deserves to feel happy, safe, and respected in a relationship. Here’s a list of things that make up a healthy relationship:

• Do you listen to each other’s ideas?
• Do you treat each other as friends?
• Do you understand each other’s need to hang out with other friends?
• Do you both admit when you are wrong?
• Do you both tell the truth without fear?
• Do you get to take turns choosing which new movie to see?
• Do you talk openly about your feelings with each other?
• Are you able to work through disagreement?
• Do you look forward to spending time together?
• Do you enjoy each other’s company?
• Are you and your partner attracted to each other?

If you answered yes to most of these questions you may be feeling like your relationship is a healthy one. If you found yourself answering no to some or all of these questions you may asking yourself if this is a healthy relationship. The qualities on this list are a checklist, and everyone has the right to expect these things in a relationship.

Can guys get abused in dating relationships?
Yes, abuse can happen to anyone in a dating relationship. When a guy experiences abuse from a female partner, it is more likely to be verbal, emotional or financial abuse. When he experiences abuse from a male partner, than sexual and physical abuse might occur more often. Having said this, we know that females can also use sexual and physical abuse, but the rates are much lower than with guys. All types of abuse should be taken seriously and can be damaging.

In some situations it can be difficult for a guy to come forward to get help because society expects him to act tough. Some guys don’t want to talk about abuse because they are worried about being judged. No one deserves to be abused and it’s ok to ask for help. You can talk about a relationship with a guidance counselor, at a teen clinic, with a trusted friend or family member, or in Manitoba, use the Klinic Crisis Line (204-786-8686/1-888-322-3019), or Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868).

I was abused by my partner, is it possible to trust again?
This is a good question with no easy answer. Everyone one of us is different and each relationship different. Abuse is hard to deal with and can be hard to recover from; it can make people unsafe and cautious, even after the relationship has ended. Some things that make it easier to heal and be open to trusting again in new relationships are having supportive people in your life, talking to a counselor about your feelings, and finding lot’s of healthy ways to cope. Abuse can be hard and the effects can be long lasting, but know that you are not alone and that sometimes people feel like they need to talk about their experience again. Even if it feels like talking about it didn’t help the first time, sometimes it works better the second time around.

There is always support available in Manitoba through the Klinic Crisis Line at (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, or the Sexual Assault Crisis Line at (204)786-8631 or 1-888-292-7565. Both numbers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What can I do if I have a baby and can’t get out of an abusive relationship?
It can be hard to leave an abusive relationship if there are kids involved. You don’t have to go through this situation alone, try to talk to someone who can help you: a parent or guardian or other adult relative, a guidance counselor, teacher, social worker, teen clinic, or in Manitoba, the Klinic Crisis Line at (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019 (it’s free and confidential). The people you talk to can help you sort out the situation, and help you plan for what you need to keep you and your baby healthy and safe.

If you feel that you or your baby is in danger, call the police and try to stay with a friend or family member where you and your baby will be safe.

Remember that no one ever deserves to be abused and the abuse is not your fault.

If my partner hit me, is it wrong to hit them back?
This could be a difficult situation with no easy answer. Hitting a partner is physical abuse, and it’s not your fault if you are being hit or abused. People might hit back because they need to defend themselves or want to get back at their partner. Depending on the situation hitting back may make the situation worse (making the other person more mad and violent) or could make the abuse stop (if they back down). Something to keep in mind is that regardless of who started the physical fight, you can be charged if you injure your partner.

In healthy relationships there is no hitting or abuse. If there abuse happening in your relationship, you can try talking to someone about it. You don’t have to go through this situation alone, try to talk to someone who can help you: a parent or guardian or other adult relative, a guidance counselor, teacher, social worker, teen clinic, or in Manitoba, the Klinic Crisis Line at (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019 (it’s free and confidential). The people you talk to can help you sort out the situation, and help you plan for what you need to keep yourself safe.

I think I’ve been abusive, what should I do?
Admitting that your behavior is abusive is the first step. This usually means taking responsibility for your actions without blaming your partner or making excuses.  Many people have done things they aren’t proud of in relationships, and can change their behavior if they work at it. Try talking about it with someone you trust and look up to. You could talk about how you feel when you act in certain ways and how you would like to act differently. It helps to look at your behavior and learn new ways of dealing with your emotions. If you are acting abusively with a partner, you may want to think about ending the relationship to get some space and time to work on acting differently.

You can try asking for help from a guidance counselor or at a teen clinic. In Manitoba, you could also call the Klinic Crisis Line, (204)786-8686 or toll free, 1-888-322-3019. If you live in Winnipeg, you could go to Klinic on Broadway (545 Broadway Ave.) for free drop-in counseling Monday to Wednesday from 12:00 to 7:00 pm and Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 12:00 to 4:00 pm.  It is free and you don’t need permission from your parents.

My friend is in an abusive relationship, how can I help them?
It’s stressful knowing that someone we care about is in an abusive relationship. We want the best for our friends, and we don’t want to see them get hurt. It is probably a good idea to assess how much danger they are in. If your friend is telling you that he or she is scared of their partner, that they have been physically hurt by them, it is a good idea to encourage your friend to talk to other people about what’s going on.  This can help them sort out what they are going through and figure out a plan to keep themselves safe and healthy. You could go with them, or you could go yourself, because you might need your own support. You and your friend can use the school guidance counsellor or other adult you trust, a teen clinic, the Klinic Crisis Line (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868, or if you are in Winnipeg you can try Drop-In Counselling (545 Broadway Ave.), Mon to Wed from 12 to 7pm and Tues, Fri and Sat from 12 to 4pm (it’s free).

If your friend is not afraid of their partner and there is a low risk of physical harm, then they may be describing an unhealthy relationship, which is also a very tough situation to be in. Being there for your friend and listening can be a huge help. Try to spend time with your friend doing things that are enjoyable and that you both like to do.  Try to listen to your friend without judging them and remind them often that it’s not their fault. You can tell them that you think what is happening to them is wrong and unfair.  You can talk about what you both think a healthy relationship would look like.

If your friend stays in the relationship, try not to nag or criticize them, it can make them less likely to come to you for support. Asking what you can do to help is often better than telling your friend what you think is best. They’re the ones most affected by the relationship, so they have to be the ones who feel in charge of what happens.

How can you get out of an abusive relationship safely?
Leaving an abusive relationship can be difficult but there are things that can make leaving safer. If you haven’t already, talk to someone you trust about what’s going on. You don’t have to go through this alone, and it can be easier to leave when you have help. It could be a friend but try to also have some trusted adult involved because it’s their role to keep younger people safe. They can also help you make a plan to get out of the relationship as safely as possible.

In some cases, the police might get involved. Having a protection order may stop the person that you are afraid of from coming into contact with you. It is important to document the things that your partner has done that make you feel that your safety is being threatened.

Safety planning really depends on your particular situation, but some things that can make leaving an abusive relationship safer are by being around people who care about you (at home, when you go out, or in between classes at school). You also may want to change usernames, passwords, and email addresses, and make your online settings as private as possible. You don’t have to talk to the other person, on-line or face-to-face, if you feel threatened or afraid.

You can ask for help at a teen clinic, the Klinic Crisis Line (204)786-8686 or 1-888-322-3019, the Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868, or if you are in Winnipeg you can try Drop-In Counselling (545 Broadway Ave.), Mon to Wed from 12 to 7pm and Tues, Fri and Sat from 12 to 4pm (it’s free).  If you are in Winnipeg and need temporary shelter call Macdonald You Services, (204)477-1804 or the Ndinawe Safe House, (204)586-2588.

My partner is abusive, but I still have feelings for them?
It can be hard to leave an abusive relationship and it’s not usual for people to still have feelings for the other person. When people are in abusive relationships they really hope the other person will change. Sometimes we even think we can help them act differently, or change what we do so that that they don’t act abusively toward us. Try to remind yourself that abuse is not your fault, and no matter how much we care for someone or how much we want them to be different, we can’t make people change. Sometimes the only way we stop abuse from happening is to leave the relationship.

If you haven’t already, talk to someone you trust about what’s going on. You don’t have to go through this alone, and it can be easier to make sense of it all when you have help. The better you feel about yourself and life, the less likely you’ll be to hang onto a relationship that is abusive. Try thinking about all the things you want from a relationship. Things like respect, and good times, and being able to be yourself, and feeling supported. It may help show if that stuff is missing from your relationship. Try to remind yourself that healthy relationships make you feel better about yourself, not worse.

I have a friend who keeps touching me. What should I do?
If you feel comfortable doing so, you can start by telling your friend to stop touching you. It might be helpful to explain that you are being touched in a way that makes you uncomfortable and that we all have different “comfort zones” and your friend is crossing yours. Remember, you are the only person who has rights over your body and everyone else needs to get permission from you before trying to touch you. This is called asking for consent. If the other person isn’t getting the message (they keep touching you) you can talk to someone you trust about the situation (another friend, family member, teacher or a guidance counselor). Trust your feelings about the situation; it’s ok if you don’t like it, and the touching should stop.
If both the people are drunk when you have sex, is it sexual assault?
The way the law works, people cannot legally consent (give their permission for sexual activity) when they have been drinking or using drugs. This is because people sometimes make different decisions when they drink or use drugs. The law is written in this way to protect people from being taken advantage of. Getting someone else drunk or high in order to have sex with them is sexual assault. If you think this has happened to you can use the Sexual Assault Crisis Line, (204)786-8631 or 1-888-292-7565. It’s free and confidential counseling over the phone with people who are trained to help you deal with a past or current sexual assault.