Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically.  If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474  or text “loveis” to 22522.

9 Things You Can Do to Promote Healthy Relationships in 2016

2016 is here, and while last year’s news has brought issues like sexual assault and dating violence into the spotlight, now is the time for action. Anyone can become an advocate to end dating violence, including you! Here are nine things you can do this year to promote healthy relationships:

1. Educate yourself on dating violence. Do you know the warning signs of dating violence? What about how to help a family member or friend with a dating partner using unhealthy or abusive behaviors in their relationship? Start by learning about what is dating violence and how to help people experiencing abusive relationship behaviors. You can also always call, chat, or text with one of loveisrespect’s peer advocates 24/7.

2. Show your dating partner respect. Mutual respect is necessary to maintain a healthy relationship. Your partner’s desires, needs, and feelings have value. Let them know you’re making an effort to keep what they want and need in mind. That includes things like respecting their privacy and the boundaries the two of you have set up together.

3. Be an ally for LGBTQ relationships. If you or your family member or friend identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans*, they may face challenges those in heterosexual relationship do not. The same is true if they’re experiencing abusive relationship behaviors. You can create a safe place by simply listening without passing judgment.

4. Be a good role model for your kids. If you’re a parent, talk to your teen about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors. Use teachable moments in the media — like TV shows and movies — to discuss topics like open communication, setting boundaries, and respecting their dating partner. Listen to what your child has to say about issues like dating and sexual violence, and keep an eye out for any warning signs.

5. Use social media to spread the word. Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat are all powerful tools to help end dating violence, along with Facebook, Pinterest, and more. Be an activist online by asking questions, creating your own inspirational posts, or posting relevant new stories, images, and more that help bolster smart and positive advocacy.

6. Talk to your school board. Schools are a great place to educate young people about dating violence, as well as a place that should be working towards preventing such violence from happening. Set up a phone call, write a letter, or go to a local school board meeting to speak with educators about setting clear policies on their campuses. Some of the things that middle and high school campuses may lack include how to report dating violence, enforcing protection orders on campus, staff training, hosting dating violence campaigns involving students, educating parents on the issue, and teaching effective curricula about dating violence.

7. Connect with support systems. Whether you’re in a healthy, unhealthy, or abusive relationship, it’s important to connect with friends, family, and others in your life like teachers, coaches, co-workers, bosses, and more that can help you get emotional support.

8. Host a Valentine’s Anytime party. Valentine’s Anytime is a fun way to get involved in ending dating violence. Throw a party to raise awareness. Whether it’s a smashing soiree or a low-key event with friends, you can make it yours while bringing attention to this cause.

9. Wear Orange 4 Love.  Be part of Respect Week 2016 and wear #Orange4Love on Tuesday, February 9! Get everyone you know to wear something orange to promote healthy relationships in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, then share photos onlie.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn more ways throughout the year to promote healthy relationships in 2016!