BY MACKENZIE STEELE

White Ribbon Day is the 25th of November. This year, the theme is respectful relationships.

This is a day all about awareness of violence of men against women. This is a huge issue in New Zealand and I’d urge everyone reading this to check out the links below. Consistently, of the 40% of all assaults against women where the perpetrator was identified in 2016, 77% are family members, partners, or exes. That’s a terrifying statistic and highlights one really important place where respect in relationships is needed. But I’m going to take a different tack in this article, because I think respect is useful in other contexts too.

Respect is important in any relationship. Respect is how you can tease your friends, but know when it goes too far and to apologise. Respect is letting your siblings be themselves without changing them. Respect is understanding boundaries and when to not push them. Respect is being aware of the people around you and their wants and needs. Sometimes it means learning about how others experience the world.

It’s a concept that goes in all directions. You need to respect yourself (understand your own boundaries, don’t do anything harmful, treat yourself occasionally, be nice to yourself when things go wrong) as well as people around you. Parents, siblings, family, friends, teachers, strangers, that special person… You don’t have to know or like a person to respect them. It could be holding a door open for others to pass, it could be giving your bus seat to someone else, it could even be not saying something mean to someone you hate. It doesn’t take much time to do, but respect does require you to think. And that’s a good thing.

You don’t want to force someone to do someone to do something they don’t want to. You don’t want to make someone feel in pain or pressure. Because wouldn’t it be awful if other people did that to you?

If we all had more respect, for ourselves and others, imagine how much easier life would be. Okay, maybe a world without violence or road-rage or bullying seems a bit far-off, but we can all start by respecting ourselves and others a bit more. Everyone is a person too.

Go to the White Ribbon website to find an event near you and support this awesome cause. Check out the toolboxes and their resources for respectful relationships.

If you’d like to know more about respectful relationships, or family or male-against-female violence, look at these links. There are statistics, tests, resources, and places to go if you need help:

For statistics:

Test the respect and health of your relationship:

For help, resources, and more information:

And a bit of advice: You don’t need to be a victim or an abuser to ask for help. Small problems in relationships and personal communication style can become huge ones, and it’s okay to ask for assistance while they are still small. There are a lot of resources in the links above that can help.

Are you in a difficult situation and need someone to talk to? Call Youthline at any time on 0800 376 633. If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

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