Thursday, June 20, 2013

Red Flags in Relationships

This week I was participating in a professional development workshop focused on presentation skills. We had to give a 5 minute presentation and use at least one visual. When I found out about the assignment you know my mind was racing with ideas. This was a golden opportunity to talk about all my favorite feminist topics and open some eyes. 

I knew damn well this group of fine folks had never thought about how women are portrayed in the media or healthy masculinity. That's alright, if you've never learned about it, how are you supposed to know? I started writing down ideas in class the week before and was all like "this is going to blow their minds!". 

Then the unexpected thing happened. In the practice sessions one of my workshop-mates told a story about a woman who was basically stalking him and almost ran over him with her car because he refused her booty call. The class was laughing because they probably thought he was making it up, that it couldn't possibly have happened that way. If this had been a woman talking about a man doing these things, the room would have been dead silent.

Right then I realized this group (and most people for that matter) needed a little education on healthy vs. unhealthy relationship behaviors. So, I did my 5 minute presentation on red flags for unhealthy relationships and what constitutes healthy behaviors. Luckily I had given many presentations on this topic before so I was comfortable with the material and things went smoothly. 

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You could see it sinking in for most of them and I got a lot of head nods and "mmm hmm"'s. I gave them all a handout (meeting my visual requirement but also putting the info in their hands if needed for themselves or a friend). After I finished they all had to say something I did well and something I needed to work on (re: my presentation skills). Most of them said it was really enlightening and great info that we all could relate to. 

One guy said the subject was too dark. With respect, yes, it is a "dark" subject, but if we don't talk about it then it will continue and never get better. If we don't learn to recognize these behaviors how will we ever get out of abusive relationships or quit being the abuser (in the case of red flags that we don't realize are unhealthy, like jealousy)?

The guy who had told his story was in his room and responded when it was his turn to evaluate my presentation. He said it was great information that we could all use and that I needed to work on my "um"'s. So, even if he didn't say, "hey, thanks!" I at least know he got the info and hopefully it will help him. 

The majority of relationship abuse is committed by men against women, however, that doesn't mean women can't/don't exhibit these behaviors in their relationships too. This also can occur in same-sex couples. No matter who your partner is, this information is good for those being abused and those doing the abusing. It's more obvious if someone is physically abusing their partner. It's the more subtle red flags that people may tend to brush off with "gosh they must really love me to want me to spend all my time with them" type thoughts.

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