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In an Unhealthy Relationship? You Have Options

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Taking time to reflect on the health of your relationship — whether you are married or in a long-term relationship — is not easy to do, and can be an uncomfortable undertaking. But by paying attention to your thoughts and feelings about how your partner treats you, you are making an important commitment to yourself and investing in your well-being.

Here are some tips for assessing your relationship health and options for you to consider to support your safety, no matter where you are.

What’s healthy, what’s not in a relationship

Relationships exist on a continuum from healthy to unhealthy to abusive. Healthy relationships involve mutual respect, trust and good communication. But stressful events such as moves, deployments and financial setbacks can pose challenges to any couple.

It’s natural for all of us to sometimes fall short of being the best spouse or partner we can be. You may notice that you or your partner have exhibited behaviors toward each other that seem unhealthy, such as not listening, blaming or yelling. But this is normal, provided you and your partner feel safe raising concerns with each other and have learned how to work through disagreements.

This tool from Love is Respect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, offers an overview of what’s healthy and what’s not to help you determine where you are in your relationship.

Trust yourself

If you feel as if you are constantly walking on eggshells around your partner, or are afraid to bring up a topic that might lead to a difference of opinion, pay attention to that feeling. If your partner treats you unfairly, is hostile or dismisses your concerns, you are right to be upset.

If they habitually tell you how you should feel, or cause you to question your reactions to their concerning behaviors or your recollection of events, they may be gaslighting you, which is a form of emotional abuse.

Also remember that if your partner becomes violent in any way, or threatens to harm you or your children, that is never OK. The Defense Department is committed to your safety and your right to choose what’s best for you and your family.

Whether you decide to stay in your relationship or end it, you deserve to understand your options and, above all, be safe.

You have options

Here are a few tips and resources that can help you determine your next steps:

  • Learn how to maximize your privacy and safety with technology. Military OneSource has information designed to help you understand the ways in which abusive spouses or partners may misuse technology, and offers tips to help you keep your electronic devices safe and secure.
  • Seek help through the Family Advocacy Program. A domestic abuse victim advocate can help you understand your options, inform you about reporting domestic abuse in the military and connect you to civilian support outside the installation if that is your desire.
  • Chat with an advocate at the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7 at 800-799-7233 for 24/7 help in English, Spanish and more than 140 other languages. You can talk by phone or chat online with a victim advocate, who will keep your conversation confidential and help you identify your choices.
  • Visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website if you experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment during military service.

Speaking to a victim advocate can help you understand the risks of being in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

If you are thinking about leaving an abusive relationship, use the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate Locator to seek help, or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 to create a safety plan. Working with a victim advocate will help you make informed decisions about protecting your safety.

Everyone deserves to feel safe, loved and respected in their relationship.

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Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, visit the 24/7 Family Advocacy Program Victim Advocate Locator or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800−799−7233.