As a holiday devoted to love, relationships, and elaborate displays of affection, Valentine’s Day elicits strong feelings in many. Decried by some as “Singles Awareness Day” or as an occasion concocted solely to sell teddy bears and chocolate, today’s holiday is often dismissed or dreaded by its detractors. Others seize the day and see it as an opportunity to give over-the-top gifts, post heartfelt messages on social media, and go on extravagant dates. No matter what you might think of Valentine’s Day, at its core, it is a holiday to celebrate relationships of all types. Today, amidst the chocolate and flowers, it’s important to reflect on what makes a healthy relationship beyond what is visible to the outside world.
What constitutes a healthy relationship? IMPACT Boston, a program of Triangle, addresses this topic in a variety of ways. IMPACT offers self-defense classes and customized workshops that touch on abuse prevention, assertive communication, and conflict de-escalation for a wide variety of communities. The unfortunate reality is that people with intellectual disabilities are sexually assaulted at 7 times the rate of people without disabilities. This led IMPACT to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2010 to develop a self-defense curriculum specifically designed for people with intellectual disabilities, called IMPACT:Ability. IMPACT:Ability is taught in schools across the greater Boston area, in addition to program participants at Triangle, reaching approximately 1,000 people per year. This education includes a wide array of different topics, ranging from boundary setting, self-advocacy, role playing, and a deep dive into healthy relationships. IMPACT’s team stresses that everyone deserves to be safe, healthy, and feel strong.
It is crucial for people of all abilities to know what a healthy relationship looks like. Knowing how to recognize when someone isn’t treating you correctly is an important way to protect yourself. Respect, balance, communication, trust, and independence are all building blocks to maintaining good relationships, whether they are romantic, friendly, or familial. Valentine’s Day serves as a perfect reminder to enjoy the relationships around you and appreciate what makes them healthy!