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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”

Acute Explosion

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

Honeymoon Period

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

Tension Building

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:
    1. where you live,
    2. where you work, or
    3. 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.


  • 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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Hotline Numbers
  • 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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