A healthy relationship allows both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. Knowing what healthy relationships look like can help you identify warning signs of unhealthy interactions and take the steps to find support. All healthy relationships include:
- Communication: Both partners can talk openly about their feelings or problems, and actively listen to each other.
- Trust: Both partners are truthful and each believes what the other has to say.
- Honesty: Both partners express their feelings and thoughts openly and receive and give support to build each other up.
- Respect: Both partners feel supported, but still feel independent. Boundaries are respected and each partner feels safe voicing concerns or hesitations.
- Consent: Both partners feel comfortable expressing what they do and do not want to experience. It is understood between both people that consent to one thing is never consent to everything, and a relationship status never implies consent.
Recognize the Common Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
Unhealthy relationships can be abusive in many different ways and can lead to physical violence and/or sexual assault. Behaviors in an unhealthy relationship are based on a need to exert power and control over an individual.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.
Understanding what a healthy relationship involves is key to preventing progression into unhealthy behaviors, which can eventually lead to sexual violence. Identifying unhealthy actions will help eliminate unhealthy relationships before harmful behaviors escalate. These can include:
- Exhibiting jealousy and wanting to isolate you from friends or family.
- Criticism of what you are wearing or putting you down for something you said or think to make you feel insignificant.
- Placing blame on you for things that are not your fault, including blaming you for physical abuse.
- Extreme anger, violent outbursts, extreme reactions, or makes you fearful.
- Obsessive, controlling behavior including trying to control what you wear, who you talk to, how you access money or repeatedly pressuring you to have sex or participate in sexual acts.
- Threatening to harm others, including your children, other family members, or your pets.
If you or someone you care about is in an unhealthy relationship, contact these services for assistance:
Contact the DoD-Wide Family Advocacy Program (FAP)DoD-Wide Family Advocacy Program (FAP)
If you are a survivor of intimate partner violence and need support, contact the DoD SafeHelpline.
Call 877-995-5247 to be connected with a trained Safe Helpline staff member.
DSN users can call Safe Helpline by dialing Call 877-995-5247.
For those unable to call toll-free or DSN, call Call 202-540-5962.Chat with Staff Member
Download the Safe Helpline App for direct access to chat, text, and additional resources.
How You can Help Someone in an Unhealthy Relationship
- Listen and believe them. Do not cast doubt towards the person you are helping; it is important that they feel confident to confide in someone.
- Be there for them first before trying to quickly find solutions and rushing their decisions.
- Ask if the person feels safe right now and/or what they need to feel safe.
- Remind the person that it is not their fault and they are not alone. Remind them that they do have options and can leave the relationship if they choose.
- Know what resources are available and offer to help the person with safety planning, which involves identifying ways to stay safe.