Keeping Relationships Healthy

Domestic Abuse is a pattern of behavior used by one partner over another to establish and maintain power and control.  This includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, psychological, economical and spiritual abuse as well as stalking or cyber stalking behavior.  Both men and women experience domestic abuse, but at this point, our efforts and classes are for women experiencing abuse.

At OC United we are in the trenches with women who are experiencing or recovering from abusive relationships.  Donna Mroz, our initiative director, offers weekly support groups for women in Anaheim and Fullerton.  In addition, she works with teens to teach them to seek health relationships.  This is the underpinning for future success – creating the foundation for making smart decisions.  The best way to get out of an abusive relationship is to not get into one to begin with.

Lori [name changed for privacy], someone who has attended Donna’s support class for over a year, shared that when she met her husband, he was nice, kind, and going to church.  She minimized jealous and controlling behaviors and exaggerated to herself anything positive.  Over time he became more and more controlling.  First it was finances and then her relationships, until the life she was building with him was harmful to her.  It took Lori a long time to break free of her abusive relationship and she is still rebuilding her life.

A healthy relationship is connection where you need someone and are still able to be free.

Domestic abuse is an unhealthy relationship where one person’s need for control is threatened by the other person’s freedom.  Healthy relationships are important to a happy and healthy life. People with good quality relationships handle stress much better; a good friend can really help you in difficult times. Being in a healthy and supportive relationship can allow you to unload some of the stress of your day in a cleansing manner and boost your happiness level.

Here are some red flags to watch out for when beginning a dating relationship:

  • Rudeness to wait staff, servers or people in general.  He may be nice to you because he is trying to impress you but if he is rude to those around you, he is probably just a rude person.
  • Boundary pushing behavior, particularly with respect to physical intimacy early on.  Finding love should not mean being uncomfortable and doing things you don’t want to do.  Giving in only encourages the same boundary pushing behavior later on.
  • Disrespectful Behavior, such as disparaging remarks about your appearance or lifestyle.
  • Sharing too much personal information or getting too serious early on can also be a red flag.  Particularly if they are pressuring you to commit early on, this indicates a desire for control.

As you move beyond the first few dates, other red flags may appear.  Does your partner:

  • Expect you to spend all your time with him or “check in”?
  • Act possessive or jealous of you?
  • Put down your friends and family, dreams or goals?
  • Lose his temper frequently over little things?
  • Play mind games or make you feel guilty?
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol regularly?

If you are answering yes to these questions, it is time to stop and consider whether this is a relationship you want to continue to build into.  You are under no obligation to continue any relationship, particularly if they are unhealthy or potentially harmful.  Jennifer was in an abusive relationship when she started one of Donna’s teen classes but was in total denial.  Because she grew up seeing her mother experience abuse, it did not even seem unusual or unhealthy.  By the end of the eight week class she recognized what was going on and ended the relationship.

We would love to encourage people to seek help if they recognize abuse in their life.  OC United offers two weekly support groups where you can come and connect with other women who have been in abusive relationships in the past or are currently involved in them. Time and location of these groups are provided on our website If you have any questions, you can contact Donna Mroz directly at

– Donna Mroz
Director, Domestic Abuse Initiative