Safety Tips

Our advice on how to stay safe and look after yourself.

1. Relationships

We are social beings, and we need to have healthy relationships in order to be happier and healthier. Our relationships provide us with the emotional and psychological support that we need in our daily lives. While some of our relationships are inherited, like the ones we have with our parents and our children, others come through communicating with others and connecting with them. It is safe to say that no matter how our relationship formed, they all need a lot of work, skills and energy to maintain. The key elements to any successful and healthy relationship is communication, respect, empathy and understanding.


2. Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships are built on effective communication, understanding, equality, respect and sharing. We have to always keep in mind that relationships evolve and change with time in the same manner we do. For example, our relationship with our parents changes greatly as we grow up, and so does our relationship with our children. Different ages require different levels of complexity in relationship. No matter what kind of relationship we are describing, we have to keep in mind that they do not maintain themselves, they require a great deal of involvement and investment.

Remember:

● Communication is one of the most important elements of a relationship. Our ability to communicate effectively and express ourselves clearly are keys to the success of our relationships. We need to make it clear to those who we care about that they are valued and important in our lives.

● Understanding and empathy are essential resolving conflicts in a relationship. We have to try to paint a picture of what makes someone say or act the way they do, and give them a chance to express themselves and communicate their concerns. We should also expect the same from them.

● Equality is very important in adult relationships. Remember that a relationship is built with two people who are equally invested in it.

● Respect is an essential and a founding element in every relationship. Respecting others’ opinions, views and decisions adds to our value in their lives, and to our ability to give them the support they need.

● Sharing our feelings, time, and experiences with the people around us strengthen our relationships and allows them to understand us and connect with us better.


3. Bad Relationships

Relationships can fail or become bad for many different reasons. It could be that they were not right for us to begin with, or it could be due to changes in the dynamics of the relation. Relationships fail once communication becomes difficult, understanding is lost and respect is no longer the foundation of the relationship. The wrong turn can also take place if one person sees themselves more powerful and has the right to exercise their power and control over the other. Verbal, emotional and physical abuse are also reasons and signs that a relationship has gone bad.

If your relationship is causing you stress and is making you miserable, then you need to reevaluate your situation. It is very hard to root out people or end relationships, especially if you are related to the person. However, there are many ways that you can get help and support to re-adjust the dynamics or the communication methods of the relationship.


4. Signs of a Bad Relationship

There are different signs and indications that a relationship is failing and no longer serves the purpose it is meant for. These signs are not only for intimate relationships, they also appear in friendships and work relations. You have to keep in mind that there is always help, support and many other meaningful relationships in your life.

● Communication is vital for the success of any human interaction, losing it is usually the first indication that there something wrong.

● Loss of respect and trust are clear signs that there is something wrong in the relationship. When you are no longer proud of your relationship and no longer feel safe around a person, then you need to examine your situation.

● Relationships, especially intimate relations and friendships, should make us feel happier and better about ourselves. If your relationship makes feel down, worthless or degraded because of the way a person speak to you or about you, then it is not right for you.

● Relationships are about having an equal partner. If you start feeling that equality is lost, and you are being treated as a minor, you need to resolve this problem.

● If you are being bullied or abused in any form, or if the relationship is becoming overwhelming and is suffocating you, then it is time to get help or find your way out of it.

● Abuse does not have leave a mark on your skin. It could be verbal, emotional or physical abuse. You have to remember that an abusive person is not a partner, they are exerting power to make you feel helpless and to isolate you from others. You need to get help and support from your family and professionals.

● Domestic violence and physical abuse are illegal in most countries. Governments provide helplines or access to law enforcement to help and supports victims.


5. Domestic Violence

Are you being hurt by someone who is supposed to care about you? Did you experience abuse as a child?

It can be difficult sometimes to let yourself believe you are being abused. It can be hard to admit you are being abused because the person hurting you doesn’t always act this way – sometimes they may be loving and kind.

It can be difficult to admit you are being abused because you love or depend on the person and maybe you are scared about what life will be like without them.But if you often feel afraid of upsetting this person, and you change what you do to make sure they don’t get angry with you, then this is a sign that you are being abused.

Are you feeling worried about your relationship but not sure if there is abuse involved? See if any of the warning signs below apply to you.

Does your partner, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your friend, your carer, or a family member:

● Make you feel uncomfortable or afraid?

● Often put you down, make fun of you, or make you feel worthless?

● Always check up on what you’re doing or where you are going?

● Try to stop you from seeing your own friends or family?

● Make you feel that no one will believe you if you say you are unhappy?

● Stop you from having any money yourself or tell you what you can and can’t spend money on?

● Refuse to help with your personal support needs when you ask?

● Make you feel afraid to disagree or say ‘no’ to them?

● Tell other people you make things up and easily get confused?

● Scare or hurt you by being violent (eg. hitting, choking, smashing things, breaking or removing disability aids, locking you in, driving dangerously to frighten you)?

● Pressure, force or trick you into doing sexual things that you don’t want to do?

● Insist in always going in to see the doctor with you?

● Threaten you with losing your children?

● Threaten you that you will have no one to help you if you leave the relationship?

● Threaten you that will be placed in a residential accommodation service?

● Threaten to hurt you if you say you want to end the relationship?

● Have your children heard or seen these things or been hurt themselves?

If any of these have happened to you, then there are signs that you are not being treated right, or that you are being abused. If you don’t feel safe, respected and cared for, then something isn’t right.

Remember, if you are being abused, it’s not your fault. Just because someone has treated you badly, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. They are the one who has done the wrong thing. You are not to blame for the abuse.

You have the right to feel safe and to live a life free from fear.


6. Domestic Violence - The Signs of Abuse

Are you worried about how you are being treated by your partner or husband, boyfriend or girlfriend, a family member or a carer?

It can be difficult to recognize the signs of abuse.

Abuse in relationships, which is also called domestic violence, is any behavior that causes physical, sexual or emotional damage, or causes you to live in fear.

Non-physical forms of abuse can be just as damaging as physical violence.


7. Emotional Abuse

When someone:

● constantly puts you down or criticizes you

● threatens to stop you from seeing your children, or

● threatens to commit suicide if you leave the relationship.


8. Social Abuse

When someone:

● prevents you from seeing your friends and family

● makes you feel guilty about going to work or socializing

● constantly checks up on your whereabouts.


9. Financial Abuse

When your partner or another family member takes control of your financial affairs when you don’t want them to, or prevents you from having access to money.


10. Sexual Abuse

When someone makes you do sexual things that you don’t want to do. Forcing you to have sex is a criminal offence (in some countries) , even if you are married.


11. Stalking

When a partner, ex-partner, or someone else follows you around, or repeatedly tries to contact you, even if you’ve said you don’t want this.


12. Physical Abuse

Includes pushing, hitting, throwing objects, driving dangerously to frighten you, or threatening to physically harm you, other people, or pets.

Abuse can be difficult to identify, because an abusive person doesn’t always act this way.

Sometimes they may be loving and kind. But if you often feel afraid of upsetting the other person, and you change what you do to avoid their anger, then this is a sign that you are being abused.


13. How might this be affecting me?

All forms of abuse have damaging consequences. Your confidence can become worn down by abuse.

If you have been in an abusive relationship you may feel:

● afraid to tell anyone

● worried that it’s your fault

● depressed and alone

● confused

● scared of coping on your own

● scared it will get worse if you leave

● worried about what others will think

● afraid that no-one will believe you

● frustrated and sad because you’ve tried everything.

Children are also affected if they live in a home where there is abuse. Remember, you’re not to blame for the abuse. You have a right to feel safe and to live a life free from intimidation.

Common ideas about why violence occurs

● ‘They had a sad or difficult upbringing.’

● ‘They drink too much.’

● ‘They have a stressful job. ‘

● ‘They can’t control their anger.’

● ‘Something about you causes them to abuse you. ‘

At times, we all experience stress, trauma, anger and fear. An abusive person may use these things as excuses for their behavior, but really they behave this way to try to control what you do.


14. How have you coped until now?

You may have:

● ‘tiptoed’ around their moods

● seen less of your friends and family

● changed your behavior according to what they says they wants

● tried hard to protect the kids from seeing or hearing the abuse

● attempted to talk to them about their behavior

● tried to fight back against the abuse.

Give yourself credit for everything you tried. But in the end, only the abusive person can change their behavior and treat you with respect.


15. What can I do?

No one likes, asks for or wants to live with abuse or violence, but working out what to do, or whether to stay or leave can be hard.

The first thing is to understand that the way you are being treated is not okay. The most important warning sign is how you feel – do you feel happy, safe, respected or cared for? If you don’t always feel like this, there’s something wrong. Trust your instincts.

Remember, abuse is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself.


16. Talk to someone you trust

You don’t have to go through this alone. Finding the strength to talk to someone else can be hard, but many people who have experienced abuse say that the most helpful thing was getting support from someone else. Talking about the abuse and how you feel can help you decide what to do. Talk to a friend, a family member or a counselor. Whoever you talk to shouldn’t judge you. Counselors are experienced in helping people to deal with abuse. They won’t pressure you to leave, or to take any action unless you are ready.


17. Understand that abuse and family violence affects children

If abuse or violence is happening to you, your children will most likely be aware of it, even if they don’t witness it directly. There are things you can do to help your children.


18. Protect Yourself

Everyone, regardless of their age, ability, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or culture, has the right to live free from abuse, fear and threat. It’s against the law for someone to physically hurt you, threaten you, or to coerce or force you into sexual contact. You also have the right to equal treatment before the law.


19. Your safety is important

It’s important to think carefully about your safety and prepare yourself in case you or your children are placed in physical danger.

It’s against the law for someone to physically hurt you, threaten you, or to coerce or force you into sexual contact.

If you are in immediate danger, or if you have been physically or sexually assaulted, threatened or stalked, you can call the police. If there’s sufficient evidence, they should lay criminal charges.


20. Who can I talk to?

Family and friends can be supportive, but sometimes they don’t understand the seriousness of abuse.

If you have any concerns about being abused, you can contact a counseling or outreach service to talk, or just to get information on what you can do.

They won’t judge you, and they’ll take all forms of abuse seriously. They’ll respect your choices, including whether you leave or stay with your partner.


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