Identifying unhealthy relationships
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  • For teens to develop positive, healthy relationships they need to be able to identify when relationships are unhealthy and damaging. Problems may begin with what seem to be “innocent” issues and can eventually lead to abuse and violence. Many teens settle for unhealthy relationships and find it difficult to communicate their concerns to their partners. This lesson encourages students to identify some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship, communication skills to help deal with the problems, and when necessary, strategies for ending relationships.

Know the signs healthy relationships have the following characteristics

You talk about your feelings.

You respect your date’s friends and activities.

You consider the other person’s opinions and feelings.

You respect differences in the other person.

You state differences of opinion.

You have an equal say in the relationship.

You figure out a solution that is good for both of you.

Know the Signs: Healthy Relationships have the following characteristics:

Know the signs unhealthy relationships have the following characteristics

You believe one sex has more rights than the other.

You shout or yell when you are angry at your partner.

You use the silent treatment.

You pester your partner until you get what you want.

You pout to get what you want.

Know the Signs: Unhealthy Relationships have the followingcharacteristics:

Know the signs abusive relationships have the following characteristics
Know the Signs: Abusive Relationships have the following characteristics:

  • You dominate and control your date’s other relationships/friends and activities.

  • You call your partner names. (putdowns)

  • You threaten harm.

  • You intimidate by hitting or destroying property.

  • You become extremely jealous and possessive of your partner.

  • You push, hit, restrain or hold your date against his/her will.

  • You force sexual touching or intercourse.


  • A very unhealthy relationship might include relationship violence. It is a pattern of abuse that happens between people in any type of relationship and may include unwanted sexual contact, physical, verbal and/or emotional abuse. No one deserves abuse. It doesn’t matter what the person’s appearance, attitude, or actions are. There is no excuse for abuse. In addition, being in unhealthy relationships means that things are more likely to “just happen” and become out of control.

The cycle of violence starts with three phases
The cycle of violence starts with three phases:

  • Tension: Criticism, yelling, swearing, angry gestures, coercion or threats

  • Violence: Physical and sexual attacks or threats, or raging and emotional abuse

  • Seduction/honeymoon: Apologies, promises to change or gifts

  • After people have lived in abusive relationships for a while, the seduction (or honeymoon) phase will disappear – and the reason for the abuse will always be “if you would only …” and the apologies stop.

Jen and Mark – a Case Study

Using a case study students will be

asked to identify the unhealthy aspects

of the relationship and then decide how

the relationship can be successfully


Many people in abusive relationships are in denial they cling to the myth
Many people in abusive relationships are in denial. They cling to the myth…

  • That their partner will never do it again. Saying he or she will never do it again is futile because violence is a pattern of behaviors. Rarely does someone abuse their partner only once.

  • That they are not being abused. Dating abuse does include physical and sexual violence. But it also can include emotional and verbal abuse, which includes put-downs, insults, and threats.

  • That they will leave when the time is right. People stay in abusive relationships for a variety of reasons. These include fear of being alone, emotional dependence, confusion, low self-esteem, not realizing that it’s abuse, or a belief that the abuser will change.

  • That it only happens to girls. Males can also be victims in controlling and abusive relationships. They can be embarrassed to confess that they are being abused because they, the abuser, and other people sometimes have a bias that “only females are abused…"

Addressing violence in relationships
Addressing Violence In Relationships cling to the myth…

Approximately one in ten teenagers experience physical violence in a dating relationship. The average age of a first violent relationship experience is around 15 years of age.3 Teens a vulnerable to abuse in their relationships due in part to inexperience and also myths that include viewing violence as an act of love.

Do you know the signs
Do you know the signs? cling to the myth…

  • Define the term relationship violence.

  • Brainstorm the various types forms of violence under the following headings:

  • How commonly do you think these types of relationships are?

  • Why do you think teens do not tell parents or friends?

Jen and mark role play activity part ii
Jen and cling to the myth…Mark – Role Play Activity: Part II


  • Divide into groups of 3 and 4 to complete this activity.

  • Explain that they are planning to talk to Jen or Mark about their relationship.

  • The group needs to read and answer the following questions.

If you are not being abused but worry about a friend ask yourself if your friend
If you are not being abused, but worry about a friend, ask yourself if your friend:

  • Constantly cancels plans for reasons that don’t sound true

  • Always worries about making their boy/girlfriend angry

  • Gives up things that are important

  • Show signs of physical abuse, like bruises or cuts

  • Tell you that they get pressured into having sex, or talk about feeling like a sex object

  • Have a boy/girlfriend that wants them to be available all the time

  • Has become isolated from friends or family

If you think your friend is being abused

Listen and believe your friend. yourself if your friend:

Identify the abusive behavior

Tell your friend, “You are not to blame.

Don’t tell your friend that it is wrong

If you friend chooses not to leave

Continue to be a friend

Get new ideas on how to help your friend

If you think your friend is being abused…

If you think your friend is being abusive
If you think your friend is being abusive… yourself if your friend:

  • Confront your friend and name abusive behaviors

  • Challenge your friend’s stereotyping

  • Talk about the consequences of violence.

  • Encourage your friend to get help.

  • Be there for your friend

Safety planning for teens

Stay in touch with friends and involved in activities. yourself if your friend:

• Keep important phone numbers with you at all times.

• Consider telling your parents or teachers.

• Set up a code word with friends or parents for danger

• Talk to police and/or a shelter about your situation.

• Try not to be alone with your dating partner.

Safety Planning for Teens

If you decide to break up do it in a public place when the relationship is over consider
If you decide to break up, do it in a public place. yourself if your friend:When the relationship is over, consider:

• Letting people know the relationship is over.

• Pressing charges and/or getting a restraining order.

• Changing your schedule and the routes you take.

• Using a buddy system for getting around