Never Do This BUT Do This
Every person in a romantic relationship fulfills certain roles. One partner may stay at home while another “brings home the bacon”. One may do the cooking and another may mow the lawn. Or maybe they switch roles on and off; Sometimes it depends on which partner has the time between working 40-hours, raising children, and maintaining their own sanity. While our romantic relationships can be vastly different, in order to be healthy they must all have a foundation of equality.
Equality may look different to many of us. We believe the Duluth Equality Wheel lays out a map with two purposes: To show partners who abuse the changes they need to make in order to be nonviolent and to give an idea of what equality can look like in our own relationships.
Both partners in a relationship should feel comfortable and be safe expressing themselves and doing things. Both partners speak and act in non-threatening ways to create an atmosphere of openness; no partner should ever have to “walk on eggshells”.
This can include listening without judgement and valuing opinions. Being emotionally affirming and understanding shows a partner that you are genuinely interested in and respect their thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
Trust and Support
Supporting goals in life and respecting a partner’s right to their feelings, friends, and activities shows you trust them. Partner’s can maintain autonomy outside of the romantic relationship and feel comfortable having personal space.
Honesty and Accountability
Mistakes happen. The difference in a healthy relationship is accepting responsibility and acknowledging past wrongs especially if it was violence. Being able to admit fault and communicate openly and truthfully allows both partners to grow individually and as a partnership.
Both partners share parental responsibilities and become positive nonviolent role models for their children. Children often imitate what they see. If they witness parents who share responsibilities and argue nonviolently, they download that as the norm and standard of behavior.
Both partners mutually agree on a fair distribution of work including household labor. This means that family decisions are to be made together, including work inside and outside of the home.
Making financial decisions together can circle back to trust as well. Both partners should benefit from the financial arrangement and neither should feel like another has power over them.
Negotiation and Fairness
Arguments, disagreements, and different opinions happen. Seeking out mutually satisfying resolutions to conflicts can not only provide a nonviolent solution but model positive conflict resolution to children in the home. Accepting change and being able to compromise can be healthy as well; Most relationships will go through so much change!
Every person is deserving of relationships that are built on nonviolence and equality. When someone is not only loved but respected, they are free to be their true and authentic self. When someone is not only seen but heard, they share their feelings without fear. And when we model healthy behavior to our children, they are not only learning about equality…they are becoming a part of the change to stop domestic violence.
FULL TRANSCRIPT (The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Be Seen and Heard Journey. Please note that this episode, like all BSH Journey episodes, features Victor speaking extemporaneously–he is unscripted and unedited.)
Hey, it’s Victor, welcome to another Be Seen and Heard© Journey. Thank you so much for being with me today. Thanks for watching the video and listening to the podcast. I know today’s an interesting day. It’s an interesting time and I know it’s very uncertain right now. So I just want to say thank you. We’re all in this together and we will get through this.
Today’s video is really about two things that I want to share today. I titled the video, Never Do This – But Do This.
When I present at schools and share important topics like sexual abuse awareness and prevention, I’ve had a lot of interesting comments from students specifically in the older grades. I always ask, starting in fifth grade or so, I’ll always say, what’s the lesson that you learned here today? They will say things like, I’ve learned about unsafe touches. I’ve learned what an unsafe secret is…what a safe secret is. I learned what abuse is all about.
Lately in the last couple of years, I hear this…The lesson I’m walking away with today is never do this to someone else, meaning never abuse another person. And when I first would heard that in a live audience, I would just kind of say, Oh, of course, and I’d walk away. I was kind of nervous about that because I think it brings up a whole other topic. But the more I hear it and the more courage I get when I’m speaking at schools on this topic, the more confidence I get to talk about it.
I say, of course you don’t want to do this to someone else. You want to respect other people’s bodies and their boundaries. And that’s kind of the wording I use – boundaries and bodies. I think that’s a huge lesson in the Be Seen and Heard program. Not only my goal is to prevent sexual abuse…it’s to help a child who is connecting with the concepts and the ideas and to come forward and share if someone has been abusing him or her. I also teach children to grow up and not do this to anyone else.
The first part of the title is, never do this. And the second part that I want to talk about now is – but do this. And so what is that? That is really focusing on this week’s post, which is on the Duluth Model called the Equality Wheel. I love this because this wheel was created for abusers to see what a healthy relationship looks like.
I believe and know that anyone could look at this wheel and adopt some of the principles in their lives. I get to raise my hand and I get to look at this week is for me. I am looking at this wheel and one of the spokes on the wheel is Parental Responsibility. Now, I don’t really talk about this very much, but I’ve been divorced now for a few years and when I have my children here it’s an amazing gift. I love to spend time with them and I love to be with them. But the one spoke on this wheel is telling me to treat my children with respect and listen to them.
And I have to be completely honest…I think about the way I react to situations with my kids and I’m trying to learn to respond and not react. But I recall as a child being yelled at a lot by my father. I would leave the door open a little bit and instead of saying, Hey Vic, can you close the door all the way? He would yell at me and say, why did you leave the door open? Close the door, do it right.
I look back and I know that effected me. So there are times when I react to my children and I do yell sometimes. I’m not proud of it, but I still think every day in my life I try to be a better father than I was yesterday.
And I think one of the things you have to do is not beat yourself up. That’s something I’m getting better at too. But my goal now, since we have a lot of time to stay home in the next month or so, is I’m going to really be aware and stop reacting and responding.
And I came up with something that I think is pretty cool. I call it the power of six. I have it written in my journal and it basically is this. I came up with this and I think there must be six other options for me. Six other ways I can respond to when my kids drive me crazy. You know, maybe I walk away and go for a walk. I can go outside, I’m allowed to go outside and then come back in.
Maybe I allow them to be kids and if they’re getting in an argument with each other, let them do that and then have a talk with them afterwards. There are always other ways in which to respond to a situation. So the power of six is just a reminder for me. It’s a practice and that’s what all of this is about. It’s about practicing, reading, learning, putting new habits in the place. So Never Do This But Do This.
And so kids are being taught to never grow up and be abusers, but we’re also teaching kids and parents and adults to do this…Meaning to have the best possible relationships. You can be aware of when things aren’t going right and be responsible to own it and say, I’m sorry. I’m working on it. Let’s keep moving forward.
So with that being said, I know I kind of went long today, but it’s okay because this is such an important topic. Please share this video with your friends and family. I wish you all the strength and the health that I can possibly give you. And we are all here together. Let’s be good to each other. Let’s love each other and let’s be seen and heard. Talk to you soon. Bye.