Yesterday, to celebrate “Healthy Love” and Valentine’s Day in our Women’s Program, a wonderful group of youth volunteers came in to decorate the classroom, show our clients love, and encourage them with words of God’s love. This month in our Haven of Hope Women’s Center, our program directors have been putting time and focus towards helping our clients understand what “Healthy Love” looks like. Through tough conversations, education, and encouragement, this focus on Healthy Love has helped our clients begin to understand and identify what it means to be in a healthy relationship. A big thank you to all of our volunteers and donors supporting our clients and showering them with love all year round!

Hear from Program Director Michelle Freitas on the concept of “Healthy Love” and its role in the lives of our clients in the questions below:

Questions:

Describe “Healthy Love” for us:
About 3 years ago we began to celebrate Healthy Love with 14 days of awareness to talk about love—both healthy and unhealthy. This was inspired by an organization and movement called “One Love”. Our goal of joining this movement is to bring awareness, education, and empowerment to our women—aiding them in recognizing that everyone is responsible for their own choices and no one deserves abuse.

Approximately what percent of clients in HOH experience abusive or unhealthy relationships?
100%.  We all want healthy relationships, and we all have experienced at least one unhealthy relationship. Many or most of our clients have experienced abuse and we saw this movement as a way to bring education on the results of unhealthy relationships in order to prevent further abuse and even tragedy.

Why is Healthy Love so important?
Focusing on healthy love can help us foster the start of what can become a conversation, action, or person who can save a life. This movement provides an opportunity to build a climate of intentional change.

How does Healthy Love play into the recovery process for our clients?
It is the beginning of learning about Gods love, and to begin to love ourselves.  To know self-care is essential because we cannot care for those we are charged with until we care for ourselves first.  Focusing on healthy love in our Women’s Program has resulted in us leaning into uncomfortable conversations, women seeing their own worth, and changing their behaviors and choices.

What are signs of Healthy Love?
10 Signs of a healthy relationship would be:
1. Comfortable Pace
2. Trust
3. Honesty
4. Independence
5. Respect
6. Equality
7. Compassion
8. Responsibility
9. Loyalty
10. Communication

What are signs of unhealthy love?
Unhealthy relationships usually show signs such as:
1. Intensity
2. Jealously
3. Manipulation
4. Isolation
5. Sabotage
6. Belittling
7. Guilting
8. Volatility
9. Deflecting Responsibility
10. Betrayal

Tell us about the activity with HOH to teach clients about healthy love:
Leading up to this Valentine’s Day, we’ve celebrated 14 days of healthy love.  Each day we participated in gratitude journals, affirmations, empowerment, goal setting, prayer, and conversations about self-care, healthy relationships, and unhealthy relationships.  On the 13th day we engaged in fellowship with a group of youth volunteers in the community, sharing verses of His love and encouraging our clients on their path to recovery.

We also had the opportunity to meet our new volunteer Chaplins, discussing Healthy Love and sharing our stories around the room. It’s been a great month bringing education, awareness, and building relationships within our community.  

What do you want our clients (and everyone) to know about healthy love and its importance:
For our clients and for everyone, understanding healthy love can help us to identify and navigate healthy and unhealthy relationships.  Our Women have been empowered by the One Love Movement to understand that one conversation, one action, and one person can make a difference and save a life. We are so grateful for this empowerment in the lives of our clients, aiding them in their journey of recovery and hope for a brighter future!