In a year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed humanity’s way of life. With work and academic environments shifting to virtual settings and in-person social activities coming to a halt, relationships of all types are bound to experience a level of strain due to these changes.
People in relationships, including friendships, family relationships and romantic relationships, can experience unhealthy and abusive behaviors. According to a 2010-2012 Centers for Disease Control survey, more than one in three women — 44,981,000 victims — and one in three men — 35,236,000 victims — experience contact sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.
Although these statistics show the frequency of relationship violence, warning signs of unhealthy relationship dynamics can often be identified before the abuse escalates.
As we experience the ebb and flow of the pandemic, the prospect of returning from life behind a screen may cause people to rush certain aspects of their lives. Both friendships and romantic relationships that experience this rush can exemplify one of the 10 signs One Love Foundation identifies as unhealthy behavior in a relationship: intensity.
Intensity, in this sense, can be defined as a person expressing extreme feelings that cause one to feel overwhelmed, coupled with an uncomfortable pace of the relationship. Intensity in relationships can be present without considering the constraints of the pandemic. However, increased isolation caused by COVID-19 has the potential to amplify the impact of this unhealthy behavior.
With the pandemic converting multiple aspects of life to a virtual form, many resort to social media to check in with friends and family. Although social media serves a great purpose in keeping people connected, it can also be deceiving as it typically displays only one version of a relationship. This version often paints a rosy picture, creating a false representation of the true relationship dynamic.
Relationship education would not suggest interrogation of relationships displayed online, but rather, it would serve to remind others about the warning signs of unhealthy behaviors. Others would be encouraged to ask open-ended questions in case a potential abusive behavior is identified. This can help to prevent an already unhealthy situation from escalating violently.
Healthy and unhealthy relationship education are important not only for a person’s well-being but also for their safety. Relationship abuse that leads to violence is a public health issue everyone has a role in preventing. One Love Foundation works to educate young people about the warning signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
One Love Foundation was founded to honor the loss of Yeardley Love, a senior lacrosse player at the University of Virginia, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. One Love’s mission is to educate individuals by starting conversations, changing community standards and eventually changing the statistics around relationship violence. One Love at UF works to fulfill this mission by conducting peer-to-peer discussion events and film-based workshops.
If you would like to join One Love at UF, visit our Facebook page, One Love at UF, follow us on Instagram @oneloveuf or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the One Love Foundation, visit joinonelove.org.
By Melanie Hernandez -- UF Campus Ambassador, The One Love Foundation