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Being involved in a relationship should be a chance for friendship, intimacy, and further self exploration. Healthy relationships may also allow you to reaffirm your identity and offer a chance for personal growth. In fact, maintaining your sense of identity is vital in a healthy relationship. Knowing who you are, establishing your goals and dreams, and staying true to your personal values will benefit not only you as an individual, but also the relationship you are involved in. Remember, the relationship began because of your dynamic self in the first place. There should always be a sense of identity beyond your relationship. The relationship should fulfill you and expand your outlook and growth, but not define you. If you are committed to a healthy relationship, you should always have a sense of self, your identity.
What Makes a Healthy Relationship
There are many different components of a healthy relationship. Only you can be the judge of your relationship, although sometimes the people in the relationship lose an objective outlook on something they are so close to. Think about your current or past relationship when considering the following questions.
- Does your relationship involve more than physical aspects?
- Can you say that substance abuse or other addictions play no role in your relationship?
- Does your partner know your joys, expectations, frustrations, dreams, fears and other important feelings?
- Has your partner shown commitment in times of crisis?
- Do you respect each other’s differences?
- Is there mutual respect for each other in all areas?
- Do you both show an equal amount of compromise with each other?
- Is there room for growth in your relationship?
- Do you feel as though your identity has been maintained?
- Have you maintained the friendships that were important to you before this relationship?
- Are your sexual boundaries respected?
- Is there always mutual consent to sexual interaction?
- Are you aware of your partner’s sexual history?
- Are you comfortable communicating your sexual likes and dislikes with your partner?
- Are you both willing to take responsibility for your sexual decisions?
- Have you discussed the consequences of sexual activity?
- Do you practice safe sex?
- Has your world expanded since the beginning of this relationship?
- Does your partner compliment you and vice versa?
- Is there an equal amount of trust in the relationship?
- Is there a sense of equality and balance in the relationship?
- Are you able to be yourself around your partner?
- Do you make each other laugh?
- Are you able to talk about issues that are important to you?
- Are you able to resolve arguments rationally?
- At the end of arguments do you ultimately learn something about one another?
- Are you happy with this relationship a majority of the time?
- Do you get along more than not when you spend a long period of time together?
- Can you that there are no signs of possessiveness or consuming jealousy within this relationship?
- Can you say that you never feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your partner?
If you answered YES to a majority of the above questions you are most likely in a healthy relationship. The questions that you answered with NO may be areas of your relationship that need some attention. If a majority of the questions were answered with NO, you should re-evaluate your relationship and the reasons why you are in it. If you are worried that your relationship is unhealthy, do this exercise with a friend you trust. They may provide an objective opinion to further analyze your relationship. Remember, you deserve nothing less than a healthy relationship!
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Abusive Behavior and the Cycle of Violence
The Cycle of Violence
Tension Building Period
This is usually the longest period of the cycle.
The Abuser May:
- be moody, sullen, fault-finding, and very critical
- withdraw affection
- isolate partner
- belittle partner
- drink and/or take drugs
- make threats
- destroy partner’s personal property
- engage in inconsistent and “crazy-making” behavior
The Victim May:
- attempt to keep partner calm and to placate partner
- become overly accommodating, agreeable, solicitous, and nurturing
- become silent, or overly talkative
- withdraw from, and avoid, family and friends
- try to keep the kids quiet and “out of the way”
- constantly feel as if she or he is “walking on eggshells”
This is usually the briefest period of the cycle.
The Abuser May:
- beat partner, often severely
- rape partner
- attack partner with weapon
- isolate partner from family and friends
- imprison partner
- become extremely verbally abusive
- humiliate and degrade partner, often publicly
The Victim May:
- protect her or himself and way she or he can
- attempt to calm abuser down
- try to reason with abuser
- call the police
- fight back
- leave, or attempt to leave
In some cases of abuse, there may not be a honeymoon period
The Abuser May:
- apologize, cry, and beg for forgiveness
- make declarations of love and want to make love
- promise to get help, to go for counseling, to go to AA, to do “whatever it takes”
- send flowers and presents
- take partner out lavishly
- enlist support from family, friends, clergy and the children
- promise it will never happen again
The Victim May:
- agree to stay, return, or take abuser back
- cancel, or try to cancel, legal proceedings
- make appointments with counselor or therapist for abuser and self
- cancel these appointments because things seem to be better
- feel happy and hopeful
- believe it will never happen again
How Denial Works at Each Stage to Keep the Cycle Going
The Victim May:
- deny the abuse is happening, or blame it on some outside stress
- blame her or himself
- be convinced that the abuse will not get worse
The Abuser May:
- deny or excuse the abuse by blaming the stress
- accuse the victim of creating intolerable tension
- claim he or she was drunk and didn’t know what he or she was doing, thus denying responsibility
The Victim May:
- deny that injuries are serious (“I bruise easily”)
- refuse medical treatment or help from the police
- not consider coerced sex to be rape because they are married
The Abuser May:
- blame his or her behavior on tension, stress, etc.
- rationalize actions by saying “She had it coming,” “He needed to learn a lesson”
The Victim May:
- minimize her injuries, as well as the psychological and emotional damage
- genuinely believe things will remain good
- believe his promises
- truly believe it won’t happen again
The Abuser May:
- think he or she can change simply because he says he will
- really believe it will not happen again
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Other Areas that You Should Evaluate
Here are some more areas to evaluate. Answer these questions and construct your standards and ideas of a what a healthy relationship, according to you, requires. Again, discussing and sharing opinions with a friend you trust may provide some insight and further ensure the health of your relationships.
- What do people who communicate well together tend to do?
- What characteristics are important in good communication?
- How will a couple in a healthy relationship tend to view the importance of each individual in the couple?
Physical Interaction and Behavior
- How does a couple in a healthy relationship interact physically?
- Is physical force ever used for sex or to win arguments?
Responsibilities and Workload
- In a healthy relationship, how does a couple split decision making and other responsibilities equally?
- Is one person doing more of the “emotional work” than the other person?
- How will a couple in a healthy relationship make economic decisions?
- In a healthy relationship, who will benefit from economic decisions?
Dealing with Conflict
- How will a healthy couple deal with conflict, disagreement or stress?
- How will they seek answers or resolutions to problems?
- How will they react to change?
- How will they deal with their own faults or past behavior?
- How do couples in a healthy relationship resolve problems and heal after an argument?
Ideal interactions in a healthy relationship during conflict
- Tension builds: Stress increases between partners.
- Conflict: Partners confront one another, discuss feelings and views.
- Resolution: Partners learn something about one another. Partners learn how to better handle conflict, and how to fulfill one another’s needs.
Also remember that a healthy relationship is not just one in which there is an absence of physical abuse. The health of a relationship depends on emotional, mental, verbal, and economic respect. Please continue to the unhealthy relationship link if you would like to become more aware of the signs of abuse and how to recognize an unhealthy relationship.
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Stalking is a crime that is plaguing our society. Anyone can be stalked — adult or child, male or female, married or single, rich or poor. Victims and their families virtually become prisoners of fear. As part of a continuing response to the prevention of violence in New Jersey, stalking legally became a crime in New Jersey on January 5, 1993.
Who is a Stalker?
A person is guilty of Stalking in New Jersey if he or she purposely and repeatedly follows another person, and engages in a course of conduct or makes a credible threat with the intent of annoying or placing that person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.The Stalker may be someone you know (a friend, co-worker, acquaintance), someone you once had a relationship with, or a complete stranger. Stalking does not have to be sexual in nature. Stalkers direct their attention at a specific person, or at that person’s family or friends.
Course of Conduct and Credible Threat
The law refers to course of conduct as a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person, composed of a series of acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose which alarms or annoys that person and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be such as to cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress. The law refers to credible threat as an explicit or implicit threat made with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out the threat, so as to cause the person who is the target of the threat to reasonably fear for their safety.
The Charge of Stalking
A person may be charged with Stalking if that person:
- Purposely and repeatedly follows the victim
- Engages in conduct which alarms or annoys the victim (such as sending anonymous letters or other mailings, making persistent phone calls with or without messages, or sending unwanted gifts)
- Threatens the victim’s safety or, if the act is done to annoy or place the victim in reasonable fear of at least bodily injury
If found guilty of Stalking:
- A first time offender can be sentenced to a term of up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine up to $7,500.
- A person committing any violation of an existing court order prohibiting Stalking can be sentenced to a term between 3 and 5 years in prison and/or up to a $7,500 fine.
- A second time offender (or subsequent offender) can be sentenced to a term between 3 and 5 years in prison and/or up to a $7,500 fine.
What to do if you believe you are being stalked
If you believe that you are being Stalked, get help immediately, even if only one incident has occurred.
- Call the police department:
- where you live,
- where you work, or
- where the incident occurred.
- File a police report. Get the officer’s name and badge number, and contact the same officer or detective for any subsequent incidents so he or she is familiar with the case.
- Keep a notation of filed criminal complaints, indicating the municipality, the investigating officer, the date, and the incident report number.
- In filing a police report, request information regarding a possible restraining order if you know the identity of the Stalker. In certain cases, a victim of Stalking may be able to obtain a court order prohibiting this criminal act.
- Contact a counseling center for help and support.
- Contact the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy in your county, who will keep you informed of all ongoing procedures. (Bergen County Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy 201-646-2057.)
- Keep a journal of everything that occurs, with dates, places, and times of events. This will be useful in the prosecution of the Stalker.
- Use rubber gloves or put plastic bags on your hands to collect evidence for the police department if they are unable to send an officer at that moment. This will prevent smudging the Stalker’s fingerprints. Put the evidence in a plastic bag or a paper bag, whichever the police department prefers.
- Record the license plate numbers of any suspicious vehicles, plus a description of the vehicles.
- Record descriptions of suspicious people.
- Tell your employer about your situation so he or she can tell Security to be on the alert, and so your emplyer will be prepared in case you need to take time off from work to attend to legal matters after the Stalker is apprehended.
- Be persistent in following up on your case; ask questions.
Work with the police and the Prosecutor’s Office. Listen to the advice they offer. They are working to protect you and your family.
What To Do When You Are Receiving Annoying or Threatening Phone Calls
- Keep a record of the time and date you received the call, and what message you received.
- Put a trace on the phone call as soon as the caller hangs up. From a touch-tone phone dial *57; from a rotary or pulse-dialing phone, dial 1157. This will record the phone number of the last call originated. An operator will give you a recorded message of what to do after you hear a beep. The phone company will keep this record and release it only to the police or the prosecutor. Inform other members of the household to trace and record. Be aware that a $1.00 charge for each trace will appear on your phone bill.
- Contact the police officer assigned to your case and tell him or her the date and time of the traced phone calls, plus what the caller said or did. File a police report the following day.
PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES AND SAFETY TIPS IF YOU ARE BEING STALKED
- Stay alert and aware at all times.
- Familiarize yourself with your surroundings so you will be aware of any changes or suspicious occurences.
- Always walk or travel with someone, especially at night.
- Have your keys ready when approaching your car or home.
- Know where the local police department is located.
- Memorize the police department phone number.
- Change your daily routine; take different routes.
- Vary your time schedule.
- Wear comfortable shoes when traveling.
- Lock all doors and windows in your residence, all of the time.
- Use timers in your residence to turn lights on and off at varying times and locations.
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Are You in a Dangerous Relationship
Does your partner:
- Treat you like an inferior?
- Bring up the past to hurt you?
- Accuse you of being unfaithful?
- Isolate you from friends or family?
- Make threats (verbal or nonverbal) or harass you?
- Withhold affection or give you the silent treatment?
- Rape (using force, threats, or coercion to obtain sex)?
- Throw things or keep weapons around to intimidate you?
- Damage your possessions: furniture, pets, or sentimental items?
- Slap, punch, grab, kick, choke, push, restrain, bite, or pinch you?
- Change moods radically or threaten to hurt him/her self if you left?
- Not let you talk your feelings out or act insensitively towards them?
- Put down your physical appearance or insult you in front of others?
If you have answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then you may be involved in an abusive relationship.
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What to do if You are in a Dangerous Relationship
First, remember that you are NOT ALONE and that there IS HELP!
Chances are, you are feeling isolated and ashamed that this is being done to you. It is not your fault – the only person who should feel ashamed is the person who is being abusive.
You may worry about getting your partner in trouble. You may not want to hurt him or her, and that is understandable. But first, you must get help for yourself because you don’t deserve the hurt that is being done to you.
Abusive and controlling behavior by someone who claims to love you–no matter how loving they can sometimes be or were at the beginning of your relationship – is NOT normal. And if you think what’s happening is not a big deal because he hasn’t hit you, remember that sometimes emotional abuse leaves worse scars than physical violence.
If it feels bad, it is bad. And you don’t deserve it!
Call the 24-hour ADV Hotline at 201-487-8484 (available in both English and Spanish). ADV (Alternatives to Domestic Violence) is a Bergen County agency that provides free services for victims of relationship violence. Staffers are on call 24 hours a day to listen to you and provide non-judgmental support.They will help you identify your options and help you think about next steps to take. They have a variety of free services such as counseling, legal representation, and court accompaniment if you are getting a restraining order.
If you are in fear of your life, get help immediately. ADV representatives will help you file a Restraining Order if you choose to do so, and they can also arrange for temporary emergency housing through Shelter Our Sisters if you should need it.
If you live on campus, security will enforce the Restraining Order and the abuser can be banned from campus.You can also request housing changes if necessary.
The Women’s Center & Counseling Center are also good confidential, on-campus options for you. The Director of the Women’s Center will listen and support you, explain your options, provide information and referrals; the Counseling Center can provide the psychological counseling that you may need. Call ext. 7468 for the Women’s Center and 7522 for the Counseling Center.
Confide in a friend or relative – anyone you feel you can trust. If you feel they won’t be supportive, then seek out someone who will be (a professional staff member or professor on campus, a supervisor at work, etc.) Talking about it in a supportive atmosphere can help you during the rough times.
If you are outside of Bergen County, you can call 1-800-572-SAFE for the nearest crisis center.
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The Law: The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
Does this law apply to me and my situation?
This law applies to you if you are a person 18 years of age or older, or an emancipated minor subjected to domestic violence by a spouse, or former spouse, or a present or former household member, or someone with whom you have a child in common. This law also applies to you if you are subjected to domestic violence within a dating relationship, regardless of your age (under or over 18). You do not have to be married or living with the abuser in order to be protected.
How do I know if I am a victim of domestic violence under this law?
- You are a victim of domestic violence if you have experienced:
- Beatings or physical attacks such as kicking, slapping, punching, or hair pulling
- Threats that make you fear serious injury to yourself or your children
- Threats that make you fear for your life
- Imprisonment within your own home or at another location
- Forced sexual contact or rape under threats of harm to yourself or someone you care about
- Embarrassment or alarm because of lewd or shocking behavior
- Damage to your personal property
- Forced entry into your home, with or without a weapon
- Threats with a weapon such as a gun or knife and
- Repeated verbal humiliation and attacks
Should I call the police?
YES! Domestic violence is a serious crime and the police must respond to your calls – no matter how many times you call them. Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, it is the primary duty of the police officer who responds to a domestic violence call to enforce the law and to protect the victim. The law requires that all law enforcement officers and judicial personnel receive training in domestic violence.
The police are required by law to help you and to give you information about your rights. Among other things, the police must write a report. Be sure to tell the officer all the details. Read the report carefully and correct any mistakes. BE SURE TO GET THE OFFICER’S NAME AND BADGE NUMBER
Will anyone be arrested?
A police officer MUST ARREST a domestic violence suspect and MUST SIGN A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT against this person if you, the victim, show signs of injury caused by an act of domestic violence, even if you, as the injured party, do not wish to file a complaint.
If you show no indication of having suffered bodily injury, but tell the officer that an injury has occurred, the officer at the scene should consider other factors to determine if there is reason to make an arrest. The following are other factors that the police officer should consider:
- The injury could be internal and painful or
- It could be on an area of your body that you do not feel comfortable in exposing.
If you act with reasonable force in self defense against an attacker, and both you and your attacker show signs of injury, you should not be arrested or charged with a domestic violence offense. The officer at the scene should consider the nature and extent of the injuries, along with any previous history of reported domestic violence incidents.
What if a weapon was used during an act of domestic violence?
If a police officer at the scene has reason to believe a weapon was used during an act of domestic violence, the officer must arrest the suspect and seize any weapons on the premises that could expose you to further harm. The officer must also sign a criminal complaint in this instance.
Seized weapons are turned over to the county prosecutor’s office. If the prosecutor does not institute a legal action within 45 days to retain the weapon(s) seized, they may be returned to the owner.
The police must arrest your abuser and sign a complaint in the following situations
- When you have signs of injury
- When there is reason to believe a weapon was involved
- When your abuser has violated an existing restraining order, even though there is no violence at the time of the violation
- When there is a warrant for the abuser’s arrest for any other charge
Information from Domestic Violence: The Law and You provided by NJ Department of Community Affairs.
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- Alternatives to Domestic Violence 24-Hour: 201-336-7575
- Shelter Our Sisters (DV Shelter): 201-944-9600
- NJ Coalition for Battered Women: 609-584-8107
- Bergen County Rape Crisis Center 24-Hour: 201-487-2227
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
- Emergency Contraception Hotline: 1-888-NOT-2-Late
- CDC National AIDS Hotline: 1-800-342-AIDS
- NJ AIDS Hotline: 1-800-624-2377
- National STD Hotline: 1-800-227-8922
- Gay & Lesbian National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564 (M-F 6-11:00pm)
- Anti-Violence Project:
Gay Activist Alliance of Morris County & the Battered Lesbian Hotline
- Overeaters Anonymous:1- 973-746-8787
- NJ Eating Disorders Helpline: 1-800-624-2268
- ALA-CALL Substance Abuse Hotline: 1-800-322-5525
- Narcotics Anonymous: 1-800-992-0401, 732-933-0462
- Cocaine Hotline: 1-800-COCAINE
- NJ Drug Hotline: 1-800-225-0196
- Poison Control Center: 1-800-222-1222
- Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 1-800-392-3738
- Child Support Information Hotline: 1-800-621-KIDS
- Legal Services of NJ Welfare Hotline: 1-800-576-552
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