The SARP offers support to students who may be experiencing unhealthy relationships. Photo by Lauren Hough.
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Today’s media often portrays romantic relationships through unhealthy or toxic behaviors, using rose-colored glasses to make them appear as normal and healthy. Because of this, many high school and college students have not been taught what a true, healthy relationship looks like.
Butler’s Sexual Assault Response and Prevention — SARP — office partners with OneLove to present workshops on campus to help students recognize healthy and unhealthy aspects of relationships. OneLove is a nonprofit anti-dating violence organization, with the goal to spread awareness about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Workshops are held multiple times throughout each month, featuring a variety of topics, with more workshops expected to begin after Thanksgiving break. Students can find upcoming workshop topics through the SARP office and its social media — @butlersarp on Instagram.
Jules Grable, sexual assault response and prevention specialist, works in Butler’s SARP office in the Health and Recreation Center. Grable assists in coordinating which workshop curriculum may be relevant to Butler students and organizing the workshops. Grable believes that modern media does a poor job of demonstrating healthy relationships and explained how that can affect young adults.
“In the U.S., we don’t do a great job of teaching people how to be in relationships, how to handle conflict in healthy ways or how to recognize unhealthy signs in a relationship,” Grable said. “If we aren’t taught what healthy relationships look like, where do we learn what relationships look like? We are not showing healthy relationships in our media.”
Abby Retz is a sophomore history-anthropology and race, gender and sexuality studies major. They are the advocacy fellow for SARP and Title IX offices’, meaning they communicate student needs and wants to both offices, as well as a OneLove workshop facilitator.
OneLove workshops demonstrate the values of a healthy relationship and how to spot signs of toxic dynamics through short films, lectures, group discussions and activities. Each person may find a different aspect of a strong relationship more vital.
“Communication is [one thing] you cannot get around [in a healthy relationship],” Retz said. “Communicating what you need, or communicating if something has maybe crossed a boundary, just establishing boundaries.”
Grable added that students are typically more excited to attend workshops when other students are leading them and that the SARP office is always looking for more OneLove facilitators.
“You get trained to be a facilitator completely online, for free,” Grable said. “It’s not something that they have to come sit in my office for three hours and get lectured. [Students] can do it on their own time, for about 30 minutes.”
Noah Phillippe is a sophomore pre-pharmacy major and recently led a OneLove workshop covering elements of abuse and positive and negative aspects in the relationship used as an example. They explained how to help friends or other students that may be in an unhealthy relationship.
“[Paying attention to] how people treat each other in public and private [helps identify unhealthy behaviors],” Phillippe said. “Has someone’s partner prohibited them from seeing their friends or family? Has their partner been there for them during their accomplishments and low points? Seeing these warning signs is important.”
Grable said that not everyone has the mental energy to exert on being there for a friend around-the-clock when struggling with leaving a toxic relationship, and that is okay. If a student has to set that boundary, she had a few suggestions.
“You have to take care of yourself,” Grable said. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Let the friend know, ‘Hey, I am really concerned about this. I know you don’t seem to be as concerned about it right now, but is it okay if I give you this list of resources? I’m going to take a step back because it is really hard for me to see you like this. If it is an emergency, you can call [or text], or you can call anyone on this resource list.’ You have to clearly state your boundary.”
The skills learned in OneLove workshops and facilitator training can be used in more than just romantic relationships. The program teaches students how to identify negative or toxic behavior in platonic and familial relationships as well, meaning the skillset can be used in day-to-day life.
“[OneLove training] has [inspired] some internal reflection,” Retz said. “I have found myself being a lot better about communicating what I need and my boundaries. [OneLove] has made me a more well-rounded communicator.”
Relationships have an impact on most students, and with the help of modern media, many young people have a skewed idea of what a healthy relationship looks like. Grable explained that proper education on safe relationships is vital so people can learn to spot the invisible types of abuse. If more people on campus are informed about healthy and unhealthy relationships, even bystanders can help people in a harmful situation.
Through OneLove’s website and information packets distributed by the SARP office, OneLove breaks down the key aspects of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
10 signs of a healthy relationship, according to OneLove
Equality: You and your partner have the same say and put equal effort into the relationship
Loyalty: When your partner is reliable and you feel confident that they have your back.
Honesty: Being truthful and open with your partner.
Taking responsibility: You and your partner are both responsible for your own actions or words.
Independence: Having space and freedom in your relationship to “do you.”
Comfortable Pace: You and your partner allow the relationship to happen at a comfortable pace.
Compassion: Feeling a sense of care and concern from your partner, knowing they support you.
Respect: Your partner will value your beliefs, opinions and true self.
Trust: Believing your partner will not do anything to hurt you or ruin your relationship.
Communication: You can talk to your partner about anything — the good and the bad.
10 signs of an unhealthy relationship, according to One Love
Intensity: Having extreme feelings or exhibiting over-the-top behavior that feels like too much to the other person.
Jealousy: Jealousy becomes unhealthy when someone lashes out or tries to control you because of it.
Manipulation: When a partner tries to influence your decisions, actions, or emotions.
Isolation: Being kept away from friends, family or others.
Sabotage: Your reputation, achievements or success being purposely ruined.
Belittling: Anything being said to you that makes you feel bad about yourself.
Guilting: Being made to feel guilty or responsible for your partner’s actions, this is a form of manipulation.
Volatility: Volatility involves unpredictable overreactions that make you feel like you need to walk on eggshells or do things to keep them from lashing out.
Deflecting responsibility: Involves making excuses for one’s behavior.
Betrayal: Betrayal occurs when your partner acts differently around you versus how they act when you’re not around.
The following are resources provided through Butler University and specific offices to aid in mental health and relationship struggles.
Counseling and Consultation Services: On-campus counseling services
Thriving Campus: Local mental health professionals that work with students