Most dating relationships are healthy, but abuse and violence can happen between people from all walks of life, including people with disabilities, sexual minorities, Aboriginal and ethno-cultural people, and expecting couples. Young people can be particularly vulnerable to dating violence, since they don’t have as much experience to draw on when making decisions in dating relationships.
What does a Healthy Relationship look like?
In healthy dating relationships:
- The partners in the relationship value themselves and each other. They understand each other’s differences, and they treat each other with respect and courtesy.
- The partners are equal. They make decisions together. If they have children, they parent together.
- When the partners disagree, they know that it’s okay to talk about their differences. They work it out together. They find ways for both partners to get what they need.
- The partners listen to and respect each other’s viewpoints. They express their feelings and opinions. They do not make hurtful comments about the other person.
- Each partner takes responsibility for themselves. They do not expect the other person to solve all their problems or always make them happy.
- The partners each feel comfortable taking time alone if they need it. They feel okay about doing some things separately.
- There is no fear in their relationship. Healthy relationships are built on love, respect, caring and happiness.
- The partners do not try to restrict or control each other. They encourage and support each other’s growth.
- Even when the partners are busy, they make time for one another and their relationship.
- The partners have people in their lives who know them and support them as a couple. They spend time with others who have strong and healthy relationships.
Examples of dating abuse or violence
The following examples are only some of the possible signs of abuse. Trust your instincts and get help if you feel you or someone you know is being abused, particularly if you sense any of the following:
- Verbal and emotional abuse – name-calling, using hurtful words, ignoring the dating partner or giving them the “silent treatment”;
- Physical abuse – hitting, punching, kicking, pushing etc.;
- Controlling behaviours – telling a dating partner who they can spend time with, how much time, what their dating partner can wear, how they style their hair, etc.;
- Intimidation tactics – threatening to spread rumours, threatening to hurt their dating partner, a family member or pet, or destroy their things, throwing or breaking things, or threatening to hurt themselves or commit suicide;
- Sexual abuse – touching their dating partner in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, not listening when their dating partner says “no,” asking their partner to email or post provocative photos, or other forms of sexual abuse;
- Stalking – following their dating partner around or parking close by and watching where they live or work, or excessive or unwanted texts, emails or phone calls.
Learn more about dating abuse and violence
- Dating abuse information sheet
- Dating abuse booklet
- Dating safety tips
- Visit the Materials and Resources page for more resources on family violence.
Where to go for help
If you or someone you know is being abused in a dating relationship, help is available:
- Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger;
- Talk to a trusted family member, close friend, teacher or counsellor;
- Call the 24-hour Family Violence Info Line, toll-free in Alberta at 310-1818.
The following information may also be useful:
- Abuse of persons with disabilities
- Abuse of sexual minorities
- Aboriginal families
- Animal abuse and family violence
- Bullying prevention
- Ethno-cultural communities
- Emergency shelters
- Family violence and the workplace
- Family violence legislation
- Pregnancy and family violence
- Safe visitation
- Sexual assault centres
The Dating Bill of Rights outlines the respectful treatment every person should receive in a healthy dating or intimate relationship.
I have a right to:
- Ask for a date
- Refuse a date
- Suggest activities
- Refuse any activity, even if my date is excited about it
- Have my own feelings and be able to express them
- Say, “I think my friend is wrong and my friend’s actions are not appropriate”
- Tell someone not to interrupt me
- Have my limits and values respected
- Tell my partner when I want affection
- Refuse affection
- Be heard
- Refuse to lend money
- Refuse sex any time – I don’t need a reason
- Have friends and space away from my partner
I have a responsibility to:
- Set my limits and values
- Respect the limits and values of others
- Communicate clearly and honestly
- Not violate the limits of others
- Ask for help when I need it
- Be considerate
- Check my actions and decisions to determine if they are good or bad for me
- Make sure children in my household are not exposed to violence or abuse
- Set high goals