While every relationship is different there are a few common elements that help us identify if we are in a healthy relationship.
Respect Safety Support Individuality Fairness & Equality Acceptance Honesty & Trust Communication Laughter/Fun/Enjoyment
Are you treated fairly? Spoken to nicely? Asked for you contributions or thoughts? Do others genuinely want what's best for you and accept that your opinions may be different but not any less important?
Do you feel emotionally and physically safe? Emotional safety means you are comfortable being who you are without fear of being put down or degraded. Physical safety means you are not being hurt or pressured into unwanted physical contact.
Do you feel cared for? Understood when you say you are unable to go out because you have to study or have a family commitment? Do you feel like you have someone there for you when you need them?
Can you be yourself in this relationship? Do you feel able to watch the things you like to watch, or play the games you like to play or wear things you like to wear?
Fairness & Equality
Do you feel able to have an equal say in your relationship? Do you agree on things together? Do you spend an equal amount of time doing things you both like to do and go places you both like to go?
Do you feel accepted for who you really are? Do you feel your beliefs are accepted, do you feel believed and acknowledged?
Honesty & Trust
Do you get the feeling you are being lied to or deceived? Are you being honest in the relationship? Do you have trust in the relationship, and believe that the other person will follow through with what they say they will do?
Are you able to talk about your feelings, concerns and hopes? Are you able to hear what the other person is saying? Can you communicate in person and not just email or text? Do you feel that the language being used is appropriate and clear?
Do you have fun in the relationship? Do you laugh and do things that you both enjoy? Do you think the balance of fun in the relationship is enough?
If any of these questions raised concerns for you, it may be time to explore these in your relationship or with someone you trust.
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While lots of things are accepted as "normal" in a relationship, there are quite specific boundaries around what is "not normal".
Not normal behaviours are ones that play on the "unhealthy relationship" team. That team is called abuse.
Abuse can be:
physical, emotional, sexual, financial, intellectual, social, spiritual or verbal.
Some examples of these behaviours are:
Physical: hitting, choking, slapping, holding forcefully, and threatening physical acts to cause intimidation.
Emotional: insults, jealous, possessive, blackmail, accusing you of things, justifying poor behaviours, intimidation, acts which negatively impact on your self-esteem/self worth.
Sexual: rape, unwanted sexual contact, pressure for sex, forcing sex with or without protection, forcing an abortion or forcing you to get pregnant, threatening to send sexual images of you if you don't agree to something.
Financial: withholding money, controlling joint bank accounts, forcing you to work or quit, putting all the bills in your name, not allowing you access to credit or debit cards or cash, forcing you to take on their debts.
Intellectual: lying, manipulating, distorting the truth, mind games, distorting reality so you feel you are losing your mind.
Verbal: yelling, swearing, name calling, talking over the top of you, mocking you, verbally abusing you because of gender, race, cultural etc.
Social: isolating you from social networks, preventing contact with friends or family or being physically or vebally abusive in public to increase withdrawl from social situations.
Spiritual: ridiculing or putting down your beliefs and culture, prevention from belonging to or taking part in a group that is important to your spiritual beliefs or practising of your religion. 
Ultimately, if it doesn't feel good - it isn't good.
It is never your fault for someone to treat you badly. It is not ok to hurt another person.
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is about being responsible for your own health. It isn't always easy to talk about safe sex so here are some tips to help you.
Negotiating safe sex means communication between two people to reach an agreement that both people are comfortable with.
Safe sex means sexual contact that:
•Reduces the risk of passing on any infections (for more information about STI's).
•Reduces the risk of an unwanted pregnancy (for more information about contraception).
Sex is meant to be:
•Something you decide to do when you are ready.
•Something that makes you both feel good.
•Something you can interrupt or stop at any time.
•Safe because you are both prepared to protect yourselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy.
•A positive experience, not something to feel bad or guilty about.
IMPORTANT! Be aware that alcohol and drugs can have an impact on your ability to make safe decisions.
You can decide:
•When to start having sex.
•If you want to have sex.
•If you want to have sex every time.
•What kind of sex you want to have.
What if I decide I don't want to have sex?
•Not having sex is OK!
•You always have the right to decide if you want to have sex or not...it is your decision.
•There are other ways to be close, like kissing, cuddling and holding each other.
•If you don't feel OK or safe, then it's probably not the right time for you to have sex.
If you decide to have sex, then it is time to talk about negotiating safe sex.
Negotiating condom use
Condoms are the best contraception that protect against both unplanned pregnancy and STI's. For more information about contraception visit our contraception page.
Condoms work by holding the semen so that it does not pass into the vagina, anus, or mouth. The other good things about condoms are that they are:
•Free of hormonal side effects.
Tips for negotiating condom use:
Discussing condom use is a tricky conversation for everyone but it is also one of the smartest conversations to have with your partner. It is best to talk about condom use early and not to leave it to the last minute.
Choose a good time that allows you both the time to talk openly about condoms. The main thing to remember is that if you are considering engaging in sex with someone you need to negotiate condom use with that person. This could be on a first date, after meeting at a party or early on in a relationship depending on your circumstances. Likewise the way you start the conversation will be different for everyone and will depend on your relationship.
You may find it helpful to practice what you'll say or perhaps even write it down. Starting the conversation can be tricky; some conversations starters may be:
‘What do you think about condoms?’
‘As our relationship is getting more serious, we should discuss protection.’
‘If we are going to have sex tonight then we need to talk about condoms.’
‘I really like you, do you have condoms?’
Your health is super important and initial feelings of awkwardness are normal.
Hopefully you will both agree that practicing safe sex is a must. However, if you can’t come to an agreement around using condoms you need to reconsider your decision to have sex with this person. The chances of getting a STI or experiencing an unplanned pregnancy are not worth the risk.
• Find a place you feel comfortable purchasing condoms from. They are available from a range of places, including pharmacies, supermarkets and service stations. Investigate different colours and flavours – this can be fun!
• Learn how to put on and take off a condom before using one for the first time (if you are male, you can practice on yourself, if you are female, use a banana or carrot). Instructions can be found on the packet. A word of advice for women - don’t assume that a man will feel confident using condoms. Learn how to use them yourself so you can help.
• Putting lube onto the head of the penis can make sex more pleasurable for men (and less like they are wearing a condom). Always have condoms handy if you think there is a possibility that you will be having sex. Don't assume that safe sex is just a man's responsibility - women can carry condoms too.
Down to business
Once you have talked with your partner and come to an agreement about condom use it’s important to stick to it when it comes to having sex - sometimes people try and ‘back-down’ on agreements once they get to the bedroom. It may help to think of some statements that you feel comfortable using to reinforce your feelings should this happen, such as:
•I want to have safe sex to protect both of us.
•Let’s have a good and safe time.
•This is for both of us…and I won't have sex without protection. Let me show you how good it can be – even with a condom.
•I want to enjoy sex without worrying about getting pregnant.
•To make sure I don't get an infection, I always use condoms.
Afterwards, let your partner know that you appreciated their positive approach to safe sex.
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So what happens when you notice a friend being disrespectful in a relationship to another friend, or your cousin tells you something pretty shocking about your aunt or uncle? Sometimes, whether we like it or not, we are brought into situations where someone tells you about abuse or you see it with your own eyes, just walking by.
What to do then?
Firstly, it is important not to put yourself in an unsafe situation.
Secondly, it does not mean you have to be a hero and step into a violent situation or fix the abuse. Being a good friend in these circumstances is about supporting your friend or family member, not fixing it.
Why take action at all?
Did you know that people are at higher risks of abuse when they live in a culture that justifies or excuses violence and abuse? If we want an environment with less violence and abuse, young people need to start calling it out. See more at: http://www.theline.org.au/encouraging-bystander-action-in-students#sthash.umzch9iC.dpuf
So, there are a number of things you can do to support a friend or family member (male or female) when you suspect or know abuse is happening.
Listen to them – make eye contact and let them talk at their own pace.
Believe – be on their side.
Validate – let them know you think their feelings are real “its ok to be scared”.
No Blame – reassure them that the abuse is not their fault.
Ask – ask what your friend what sort of help they’d like from you.
Keeping it quiet – to maintain trust, let your friend decide who you share the story with. Don’t tell anyone without your friends’ permission. (Unless there is an immediate risk of harm to them or others - then check here for what to do)
Get Help – what does your friend want help with? Encourage telling a trusted adult. 
Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (2014). Building Respectful Relationships: Stepping out against gender-based violence. National Education Access License for Schools, Victoria.
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If you want more information about services and resources that deal more specifically with violence and abuse
please click here.
It will take you to our “useful websites and support organisations” page.
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