As one of our Twitter followers recently put it, love is not about flowers. Love is not about chocolates. Love is not about giant cards, plush teddies or beautifully written poetry. Love is about respect. 

Of course, everyone loves to receive great, big bunches of roses, a card signed with a kiss or a fancy candlelit dinner. Those things are wonderful. But they should not take the place of mutual respect, understanding and an ultimately healthy relationship.

Some statements and gestures can easily be disguised as romantic, when in reality they are part of an ongoing pattern of coercive control. “I only need to know where you are because I care about you” or “I’m only this upset because I couldn’t live without you” are statements that survivors of many different types of abuse are likely to have heard throughout their relationship. Statements such as these may seem well-intentioned, yet under the surface they work to soften what the perpetrator really wants – control.

Apparent romantic gestures can also work in a similar way. Is your loved one taking you out for dinner to celebrate your relationship, or to apologise for earlier verbal abuse or as a way of attempting to minimalise the fact that they control your finances? Is that bunch of roses a way of showing gratitude or to cover for constant mood swings?

Once again – these gestures can be delightful and wholehearted, and in many relationships they are.  But with 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experiencing domestic violence in their life time, it’s vital to remind ourselves that Valentine’s Day isn’t always about love for everyone.

Unfortunately, society still holds a stereotypical image of what domestic violence looks like. This means that some people may not even be aware that what they are experiencing is abuse. If you’re worried about a family member, friend, colleague or your own relationship, take a look at our domestic violence page to learn more about what domestic violence, the different types of abuse, types of support available and more.

Remember – while being showered with gifts, praise and compliments is nice, it’s a healthy relationship that matters. Love is not an excuse for abuse.

Valentine's Day

Everyone deserves someone who shows them respect and consideration. Take a look at just some of the other key components of a healthy relationship:

  • Open and honest communication
  • Allows for individuality and individuality is celebrated within the relationship
  • Shared decision making
  • Your sexual relationship is safe and you do not feel forced, coerced or unduly influenced into engaging in sexual activities that you do not feel comfortable about.
  • Does not check mobile phones, messages or emails
  • Does not play mind games

Download the Bright Sky app

Bright Sky is a free app providing support and information for anyone who may be in an abusive relationship, or those who are concerned about someone they know. You can download Bright Sky for free on both iOS and Android devices on the App Store and Google Play Store. For more information on Bright Sky, head to hestia.org/brightsky

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This Valentine’s Day, Remember: Love Is Not An Excuse for Abuse