Being students of real love makes it easier to recognize counterfeit love.
Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public. -Cornel West
At the center of this fight for freedom is LOVE. Justice is born out of love for others, a desire to treat them in such a way that it honors their dignity.
Love seems to be an inherent need that we all have, whether it be love from our parents, friends, or from a significant other. Pimps manipulate this desire against us, whether by posing as a romantic interest, a loyal friend, or even filling the role of a parent.
Fortifying our freedom against exploitation requires us to not only understand the red flags of a potentially exploitative relationship, but of a healthy relationship. In the same way, someone who works at a bank does not study counterfeit bills to know which are real; they study the real thing to know the counterfeit. When we become students of real love it is easier to recognize when someone is offering us something different.
Kaity’s senior year of high school could not have been going better. She was a top student who excelled in academics, the arts, athletics, and had an amazing boyfriend. He treated her like a princess, but after a couple months things began to shift and he became very mean and verbally aggressive. After a brief breakup, Kaity went back to him believing that she could help him overcome the difficulties he was going through. But his behavior only escalated, going from verbal aggression to physical assault. He eventually threatened to kill her.
Kaity’s family was relieved when she broke up with him and began putting protective measures in place in case he tried to confront her. They never expected that after weeks of no contact, he would track her down while she walked home from school.
Neighbors called the police after hearing gunshots. Kaity’s boyfriend had killed her right before turning the gun on himself. No one could have imagined that a relationship that had #goals written all over it would end in a murder-suicide.
Through all the pain and heartache, Kaity’s family sought purpose and founded Kaity’s Way in hopes of spreading the message of real love. They are passionate about helping young people out of unhealthy relationships, but are equally as passionate about getting the word out about what real love and great relationships look like. The following are characteristics Kaity’s Way has identified as key to attaining all your #relationshipgoals.
P.E.A.C.E – Rights & Responsibilities
Relationships are a 2-way road. Both parties must contribute awesome things for the relationship to thrive. If one person decides he/she isn’t going to do his/her best, then the other person and the relationship as a whole suffers. Everyone has bad days, times when they struggle to be their best and give another person their best. No one is perfect and no relationship is perfect. But real love is worth fighting for. When all parties are dedicated to that fight the relationship will stay strong.
Understanding real love means that we understand how we deserve to be treated, as well as our responsibility to treat our partner in that same manner.
In a relationship you have the right to take your time and decide when and where you want to do something, and should never feel pressured into a relationship. Similarly, you have the responsibility to exercise that same patience toward another’s position or decision in any situation.
A relationship is only as healthy as the extent to which both parties are willing to understand the feelings of the other. You never have to agree with your partner’s feelings, but when you take the time to intentionally try to understand where they are coming from, the relationship will be filled with honesty and trust. Look for someone who does the same for you.
We are all unique. We each have our own quirks, passions, and opinions. Real love never tries to change a person to mold him/her into the “right” kind of person. You have the right to be accepted for who you are, and the responsibility to accept your partner for who he/she is. Both parties should be encouraging those unique characteristics in one another.
There is a balance when dating. It is possible to accept someone for who they are and understand that it is not the best for the relationship to continue. Sometimes this happens because of a lack of compatability, other times one person in the relationship is unhealthy or abusive. You can accept that person and not try to change him/her, while exiting the relationship safely.
Relationships that have two caring people in it show signs of mutual respect. You have the right for someone to care enough about you to respect your boundaries, opinions, and ideas. In the same way, it is your responsibility to respect the same in them. Caring for someone can include feelings of romance, but if showing respect for him/her is not present then it is not a caring relationship.
Every person has the same inherent value as the next, making us all equals to one another. In a relationship you have the right for your thoughts, opinions, feelings, and decisions to be considered to the same extent as your partner’s. You also have the responsibility to value your partner’s input as much as yours. When partners treat each other as equals, you feel that much more special, increasing intimacy and trust between one another.
Practice Makes Perfect
We have yet to meet a person that did not value the P.E.A.C.E. characteristics in their relationships, but what if you are someone who has never been in a romantic relationship before? One of the reasons these characteristics are so solid is because they can be practiced in any type of relationship! With friends, siblings, teachers, parents, even your grandma. And as they say: practice makes perfect! When we take the time to value these characteristics in all our relationships then they will grow even stronger if/when we ever become romantically involved with someone.
This will not only help your current and future relationships, but it will help you better identify unhealthy or potentially dangerous characteristics in relationships. Pimps are able to so easily manipulate people by trying to fill our desire for love and affection because we sometimes get things confused in relationships based on what we have experienced before. For example, many of us confuse romance with love. Romance is fuzzy feelings when someone we are into takes us out, buys us new things, writes love notes, etc. Romance is what makes dating relationships fun and exciting. But if P.E.A.C.E. is not present in other areas of the relationship then those things are simply flattery, not true love.
Still another person might confuse physical attraction with love; or codependency with love; some of us even confuse controlling behavior as love and affection. When we begin practicing P.E.A.C.E. with people in our current relationships, and they begin reciprocating, it becomes easier to identify counterfeit love from the real thing. Not only will this make you resilient to a pimp’s manipulation, but you will more confidently be able to recognize it in a friend’s relationship and potentially help them get out of an unhealthy situation.
What You Can Do
Strive to implement P.E.A.C.E. in all your relationships – they will grow leaps and bounds if some of these things are not already present in them. Believe that you are worth someone treating you with P.E.A.C.E. and you will never compromise for less.
Check out Kaity’s Way more and see what they have to say about red flags of a violent relationship, getting out of an abusive situation safely, and how you can help a friend going through a bad relationship.
Let’s be students of Real Love, because Love is always worth fighting for!