Monday, October 28, 2013

How to break from the cycle

Have you ever wondered about your relationship... wondering if it was actually good for you or whether it felt unhealthy? Have you ever been scared or felt pressured to do things you didn't want to do by the person you are in a relationship with? Have you been hurt verbally, physically, or even sexually by a person who is supposed to care about you?

If you have ever asked yourself any of these questions and are wondering if your relationship is unhealthy, it is also important to figure out whether or not it is abusive. Not all unhealthy relationships are abusive, an example of an unhealthy relationship is if one partner is cheating or if there is a lack of trust and communication. Sometimes when one is in an unhealthy relationship you have to decided if you and your partner can fix the problems or if it would be better for the two of you to not be together. With an abusive relationship its a little more complicated.

Once you have concluded you are in an abusive relationship there are some important steps to take:

1. Be able to name the abuse, if its physical, emotional, and/or sexual,
It is true that people can experience sexual abuse in a relationship. If you don't want to have sex or want to do anything sexual at the time, your partner should respect that and not force you to do what they want. If you say no or communicate that you do not want to do something, that means no.

2. You must ask yourself what would happen if you left the relationship?
Make sure you have a safety plan, because often times abuse can escalate or get even more scary when people try to leave. 

3. Get support!
It can be challenging, especially since a lot of people feel isolated and some even feel to embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. But its important to seek support and is one of the best forms of self care and protection you can get for yourself. You deserve to have support and to feel safe.

4. Know your rights! In Washington state you can petition for an Order for Protection at the age of 16, if you are under the age of 16 you must have a parent/ family member petition for the Order for Protection.

There is also a list of what rights you have in other states just check out

If you are in an abusive relationship or are worried one of your friends might be in an abusive relationship and want to talk to someone about this, Teen Link is a great resource. It is anonymous, confidential and non-judgmental. Everyone answering the phone or the online chat is also a teenager, which is nice. It is open every night from 6-10pm. The number is 1-866-833-6546 or 866TeenLink. If you want to learn more about it or want to chat, the website is

Monday, October 7, 2013

Is your relationship healthy? Here are some ways and questions to help you figure it out.

Check Out Your Relationships
This is a great way to look at your relationships and determine if they are healthy or not. Everyone has rights in relationships and sometimes, when we are worried about losing people or unsure where we stand with the other person/people, we forget that these rights exist. Take a minute to think about your own relationships and see whether you feel like you have the rights you deserve. 
The following article is from Project Survive, which was created at the City College of San Fransisco.
If you want more information visit their website at:
Expect Respect

In any kind of relationship, whether it’s with family, friends, teachers, boyfriend, girlfriend, or partner you should expect respect. Depending on the particular ties between you and the other person, you may have different boundaries. For example, you’ll probably be closer with your mom than with your teacher. Your connection to your little brother will be different than your bond with the person you’re dating or talking to. No matter what kind of relationship it is, you can expect respect and other basic rights also.
Your Rights in a Healthy Relationship
The right to not be lied to

The right to feel you can trust the other person

The right to feel safe

The right to protect your body

The right to change your mind at any time

The right to say NO!

The right not to be hurt in any way

Ask these questions about your dating relationship:

    •    Do you feel free to be yourselves around each other?

    •    Do you accept each other’s differences and respect each
other’s opinions?

    •    Do you have equal decision-making power?

    •    Are you both willing to compromise sometimes?

    •    Do you each feel appreciated and liked?

    •    Do you solve conflicts without putting each other down?

    •    Do you both accept responsibilities for your actions?

    •    Do you make sure there is no physical or sexual abuse
in your relationship?

    •    Do you talk about sex if you’re having it and never feel pressured to have it?

    •    Do you give each other space?

    •    Do you have some privacy (letters; e-mails; journals)?

    •    Do you each control your own money?

    •    Do you not have to worry about jealousy or fear because you both feel secure?

    •    Do you support each other’s individual goals in life, like
getting a job or going to  college?

    •    Do you always treat each other with respect

If you are worried about a relationship you are in or a relationship that your friend is having and want to talk to someone about this, Teen Link is a great resource. It is anonymous, confidential and non-judgmental. Everyone answering the phone or the online chat is also a teenager, which is nice. It is open every night from 6-10pm. The number is 1-866-833-6546 or 866TeenLink. If you want to learn more about it or want to chat the website is

Friday, October 4, 2013

Oppression of young people


First, what is adultism?
Adultism  “Refers to behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon young people without their agreement.” Who experiences adultism?... uh... me and all other young people! Actually, I would even say that everyone experiences it at some point in their lives.

As young people, we don't often get to speak out against adultism, so I decided to break that trend and start talking.

Adultism is essentially disrespect of the young. Our society often considers young people to be less important, competent, and capable than adults. It does not take young people seriously and excludes them from important decisions that impacts their lives and their communities. 

This mistreatment is also systematically reinforced by a number of things including social standards, cultural behavior, and even federal laws.
Adultism is seen in a large variety of things and places including:
  •        Schools
  •        Laws
  •        Customs
  •        Attitudes
  •        Social Institutions 
If you want more specific examples of this there is a great site called the National Youth Rights Association that has a lot of good examples and resources.

Maybe you are still wondering to yourself what exactly adultism looks like. Ask yourself if you have you ever heard any of the following statements and think about what the impact of these statements might have on you or your friends.
“Wow, I can't believe you are only 16. You are so articulate."
"As long as you are living in my house you will follow my rules."
"You can't dress like that, you are only 14."
"You'll understand when you are older." 
"You don't know what you want. You're only 18."
"It is just a phase. You'll grow out of it."
"Because I said so." 

A lot of these statements communicate a sense of condescension or disrespect. Another way we might see this happening is when adults speak for young people or make decisions for young people without getting their input or permission. These acts can make young people feel frustrated, angry, sad, or powerless.

Adults are not always conscious that their words or actions impact us like this. As a young person, I know lots of adults who have actually used similar statements to try to give me a compliment, calm me down, or protect me. They didn't realize, just as I didn't realize, that their words often put me on edge or made me feel controlled or coddled. Just like with many other forms of oppression such as sexism, racism, or classism, adultism is often communicated in an unintentional and subtle way, which makes it difficult to call out. But just like any other ism, it is a real and harmful form of oppression. 

Don't get me wrong, I know young people need some structure, consequences and, possibly even advice, to be successful or to navigate all of those developmental stages and changes. I am not saying that a there should be no age limits or seniority in place. I don't know if I could handle a world were the dangers of driving were tripled because eight year olds could do it, or where
everyone had brain damage because people could consume alcohol since they were an infant. I recognize that some laws and systems are in place for a reason. I also appreciate that young people get to go to school and have the help of older people to learn how to be physically, mentally and/or emotionally ready and prepared. Without some form of adultsim, the world could be a really dysfunctional place.

However, adultism should not be a double-sided thing that used to both protect youth, while also discriminating against them. Young people may need support and guidance, but we also need to be respected and valued for the contributions that we can make. Often it is the younger people who come up with the more innovative and creative ideas. Teens today are more open-minded and can think outside of the box. Young people are very capable of being part of the decision making process. If you don't have young people at the decision making table, the decisions that are made about them or for them will fail. It is those who take the time to understand, support, and empower younger people through getting their input, letting them make their own decision, and valuing their contributions, who really make a difference in young people's lives.

Overall, I feel like young people need to have a voice and a choice! If you feel like your voice has been silenced and that adults in your life are not respecting you, sometimes it can help to vent or talk it out with someone your own age. We all deal with adultism on some level. Vent sessions can really help sometimes. Also, it can be helpful to find a youth run organization or space, where you can feel safe. 

If you want more resources around this or want to vent to another young person who gets it, you can always call Teen Link. We are a helpline run for youth run by youth. We are open every night from 6-10pm. You don't need to tell us your name or really anything other than what you want to. We are just hear to listen and give you a space to be heard. Our number is 1866-833-6546 and our website (where we also have chat) is