PQ 9.5 — Is someone threatening my well-being, safety or livelihood?

screenshot of 2 people texting. 1: Morning sunshine 2: Good morning baby. I love you. 1: Love you too! 2: Have a good day 1: I hope you do too. 2: Thanks! You are the best boyfriend ever 1: Naw, I'm just in love.
Image by Elizabeth K / CC BY

PQ 9.5 — Is someone threatening my well-being, safety or livelihood?

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Threatening well-being, safety or livelihood? That sounds fairly extreme now, doesn’t it?

And yet — as in PQ 9.1, it’s important to note that sometimes these threats onset in rather insidious ways. That’s the tricky thing about abusive relationships. They rarely start out that way. Abusive partners can be very charming, sweet. And any early signs of control or manipulation are subtle and easily explained away. Proto-abuse. Behavior that hasn’t quite reached a level of abusiveness where it is easily recognized as unacceptable but is still hurtful and left unchecked might develop into full-on abuse.

Part of understanding when a relationship is unhealthy is knowing what a healthy one looks like.

Rights in Healthy Relationships

While not an exhaustive list, Planned Parenthood‘s Info to Go packet includes some basic rights that can guide in that process:

As part of a healthy relationship, you have the right to

  • be treated with kindness
  • be with your friends or family when you want to be
  • wear what you want to wear
  • feel safe and respected
  • go only as far as you want to go with touching, kissing, or doing anything sexual
  • get pregnant when you want to be
  • speak up if you feel controlled, such as getting too many texts, phone calls, or posts about you on Facebook or other sites

Some of these points may be more obvious than others. I was particularly taken aback by the final item. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, that too frequent communication could be a form of control. But as I think about it, it makes intuitive sense. Even at its most basic level, communication is a bid for time and attention.

And the way in which we write about each other can shape the opinion of friends and family. Taken to extreme levels, an aggressive smear campaign could potentially isolate a person from their support system.

And for self-employed folks or other professionals who have social reputation to consider? Yes, such behaviors could certainly threaten their livelihood.

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions & answers, please see this indexed list.

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