Thursday, December 24, 2009

A time for cheer: Dating Violence and the Holidays.

The holidays are often viewed as the happiest times of the year – a time to rejoice with family & friends. Unfortunately, the holiday season is often a time of increased family and personal stress, which can lead to increased incidences of domestic violence. An article in the Seymour Herald reported eight incidences of intimate partner violence this week, arresting both men and women, ages 21-54. The article sited research by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation that there is usually an increase in domestic violence during the holidays due to “family stress”, alcohol and the economic stress that is put upon families during the holidays.

In the past two weeks, we have seen several prominent individuals involved in domestic incidents - from Tiger Woods over Thanksgiving, to Cincinnati Bengals' Chris Henry, who was allegedly involved in a domestic incident that ultimately led to his death. was a lot of news focusing on two domestic violence incidences that occurred around the holidays, one involving tiger woods (on thanksgiving) and recently, the death of the cincinatti bengals chris henry who was involved in a domestic incident which led to his own death.

While stories of celebrities or sports figures can dominate the news cycle, especially as they are fueled by speculation on social media sites such as Twitter, we cannot and must not forget those victims of abuse who go unheard until tragedy occurs. One such story appeared in the LA Times. Brandon Manai, 28, was convicted Thursday in the murder of his 24-year old wife, Julie Rosas. What is alarming from the story is the visible signs of an unhealthy relationship that were present through their brief marriage - incessant phone calls and texts, late night arguments, showing up unannounced to her place of work. These are all acts identified by the Safe Space as indicators of relationship abuse. While someone was unable to help Ms. Rosas before her death - we can still raise awareness and speak up to help a friend or loved one in need.

The Safe Space has special resources to help if you believe someone is a victim of abuse. Click here to learn more. Or, read the story of Marisol and Luis - a young couple whose relationship became abusive.

Of course, if you believe someone's life is in danger - call 911 and report it. Your call could save their life!

Remember, no matter how stressed out someone might be violence is NEVER the answer and has no place in anyone's life. If you are feeling stressed, communicate your thoughts calmly and respectfully. If you need to leave the situation for a while, that's ok! Both you and the person you are dating will be able to address issues more clearly after a "cool down." Be mindful that each person deserves to be treated thoughtfully, with respect to their own privacy and space.

From everyone at Break the Cycle and The Safe Space, we wish you a very happy holiday season and a safe, healthy, happy new year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A New Moon: Team Edward, Team Jacob or Team Healthy Relationships?

So, have you seen New Moon yet? Silly question, I know. If you’re a fan, then the answer is probably “Yes, I’m on a first name basis with the ticket-takers by now.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about New Moon and the entire Twilight series recently. People have been asking me about the appeal of the series, of the relationships, and why so many people are so passion about Team Edward or Team Jacob. After talking with some friends, I think I may have come up with something.

We’ve all heard the criticism of the series and I can’t say that it’s wrong. I’m definitely persuaded by the people who point out that Edward shows an awful lot of the warning signs of an abusive relationship – sneaking into her room without her consent, constant jealousy of other guys talking to Bella, disabling her car to “protect” her, threatening to kill himself if they can’t be together.

Even Jacob, the warm, friendly counterpart to the cold and detached Edward, isn’t as perfect as he seems on the surface. He could transform into a wolf at any minute, particularly if he gets angry or loses control of his emotions. Just look at Sam’s fiancĂ©e, Emily, to see what can happen if you’re standing too close when that happens. Jacob even warns Bella that if he gets angry with her, he could lose control and be dangerous to her. That sounds to me like an excuse that I’ve heard from a lot of abusers – it’s not my fault, I lost control.

I could go on and on. There’s no shortage of articles, blogs, and discussions dissecting why Twilight doesn’t portray healthy relationships. We all know that Bella and Edward are not even close to the model of a healthy relationship. And I’d bet that most of us wouldn’t actually want their relationship as our own.

But why is it still so compelling?

I have a theory.

I think it’s Edward’s unwavering feelings for Bella that are so appealing. He thinks she’s perfect, just the way she is. She thinks she’s average-looking, awkward and tragically human. But to Edward, Bella is beautiful, caring, and worthy of his total devotion. He loves her because of her flaws, not in spite of them. Isn’t that we all hope for in a relationship? Love that is secure and stable, that will remain even when we occasionally act tragically human.

Of course, real love takes real communication, faith, and compromise. It’s not as easy as eternal devotion or “imprinting” on your perfect mate. Relationships do end and sometimes we do get hurt. But it’s that uncertainty that makes it so worthwhile, isn’t it? In real life, I’d much rather have a partner who chooses me every day over one who is compelled to be with me by some irresistible force. No question.

I don’t feel guilty about occasionally enjoying the fantasy of a Twilight-style romance because I know it’s not a manual for my real-life relationships. For that, I turn to my sources for good relationship advice, like,
But for a little bit of escape from the real world, I’ll happily turn to a world where eternal love is possible, the only real dangers are werewolves and vampires, and good will always prevail in the end.