There are certain times of year that are decidedly not fun to be single. Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, the weeks leading up to my senior prom, and standing in line to ride the Ferris Wheel at the state fair are just a few examples. And at first glance, an entire month centered around healthy relationships and relationship violence awareness may not seem inclusive of single people either. Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM) rolls around every October, right around the time people start going on dates to pumpkin patches and planning fun couple’s Halloween costumes. However, when you look closer, RVAM is a lot more inclusive than third wheeling your roommate and her S.O.’s pumpkin-spice latte date.
Relationship Violence (RV) encompasses a lot more than just intimate or romantic partners. It includes anyone in any kind of relationships – friends, roommates, co-workers, acquaintances, causal sexual partners, group project members, professors and more. All of these relationships could potentially become unhealthy or even abusive. Carolina chooses to focus on RV in RVAM rather than the traditionally celebrated DVAM (domestic violence awareness month) because it’s a better representation of the variety of relationships here at UNC. So clearly, even perpetually single Tar Heels like me can benefit from RVAM programming.
So amidst the cute hayride dates and football games, we can take time to make all of our relationships a little healthier. Even the oldest, strongest, relationships aren’t conflict free (my roommates can attest to that one). Arguments, disagreements, and general annoyances crop up, and learning how to handle those can make all the difference.
How are we supposed to go about addressing these conflicts? The secret lies in communication. Letting problems continue to go unresolved can turn small issues into big ones, so setting aside some time to talk can really make all the difference. When you do, experts from the National Domestic Violence Hotline suggest to keep a few things in mind:
- Timing is everything! Don’t try to talk when both of you are busy, unfocused, or upset about other things. For example, it’s probably not productive to talk to someone as they’re walking out the door to an exam.
- Don’t attack the other person. Use “I” statements so that the conversation doesn’t turn into a fight.
- Be honest. Tell them how much you care about having them in your life and how the conflict has made you feel.
For other helpful tips about resolving conflict, check out these lists of communication suggestions from the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect.org, or check out this image for what not to do when resolving conflict. If you’re feeling confused about what is going on with a relationship, check out this page on examples of unhealthy or abusive actions or this list of questions to ask yourself.
Even though all relationships have their moments of conflict, it is never okay for you to feel intimidated, controlled, or powerless in the relationship. If someone is threatening you, humiliating you, or treating you disrespectfully, you may be experiencing relationship abuse. If this is the case, look here for a list of services on or around campus that can help.
To continue learning about Healthy Relationships, take this module created by the LGBTQ Center and Student Wellness! It provides great guidance on how to sustain healthy relationships and local resources you can access. This module is centered on the experiences of LGBTQ+ people.
For more information about on and off campus resources, check out safe.unc.edu
This blog was written by Izzie Hirschy, a Student Wellness Violence Prevention Intern and UNC honors student double majoring in Political Science & Peace, War and Defense with a Social and Economic Justice Minor. She’s also the assistant Vice Present for New Member Education in Delta Advocates.