Category Archives: Resources

Peers Building Justice: Defining Healthy Relationships through a Social Justice Lens

Peers Building Justice: Defining Healthy Relationships through a Social Justice Lens

With Healthy Relationships we also have to take into consideration how our social locations and the identities that we hold can reflect healthy/unhealthy relationships. This is a list of some key elements of what a healthy relationship looks like with an anti-oppressive lens.

  • Communication: Understanding your partner(s) social location can change the way they communicate (how and where they grew up, how they were raised, personality, family etc). Being honest and open about your views, feelings, thoughts, etc are really important. We also understand how society has put pressure on certain genders to hold back emotions. Communication is key to a healthy relationship so work with your partner(s) and start talking about what’s going on.  
  • Active listening: Listening is one thing, but active listening is completely different. Listening is when someone is saying something and you are hearing their voice/words or body movements, but not their message. Active listening is fully focusing, concentrating, understanding, and responding what the other person told you.
  • All-way street: All people need to treat each other with a “love ethic” (similar to the Golden Rule). Bell Hooks explains a “love ethic” as:

  “To live our lives based on the principles of a love ethic – showing care, respect,  knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate – we have to be courageous.Learning how to face our fears is one way we embrace love. Our fear may not go away, but it will not stand in the way. Those of us who have already chosen to embrace a love ethic, allowing it to govern and inform how we think and act, know that when we let our light shine, we draw to us and are drawn to other bearers of light. We are not alone.”

  • Empathy: It is truly important to feel WITH someone. Sympathy and Empathy can be mistaken as similar, but they are not. Sympathy is when you feel sorrow, pity, sadness, etc for the troubles or hardships that another person faces, but empathy is truly feeling for them, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
  • Respect each other: Respecting each other means we are respecting our boundaries and that of our partner(s). It means that we are taking into consideration all of our privileges and where we are not privileged. Making sure we respect where they are coming from. Respecting their decisions, respecting their being, respecting their passions — and that can look different for everyone. Check in with your partner(s).
  • Love: Love yourself. Love is all the factors we have listed and more. Love is defined by the beholder and love is everything healthy. You define love.
  • Trust: It is important to trust your partner(s). When you trust them, you feel confident. You feel sure about what they are saying or doing. We can feel trust in our bodies and know when we are being lied to. When you lie to your partner(s) that can create an unhealthy relationship.  If you can’t trust your partner(s) ask yourself why? And communicate your thoughts/feelings to them. Be honest with yourself.
  • Be Supportive: Supporting your partner(s) is supporting their process. Its being there for them. When all partner(s) encourage each other to be the best person they can be! Support is given and received.
  • Being able to share ideas and feelings in an open way: It is a great feeling when you know you can share your feelings and ideas with your partner(s) and know that they are going to respond with a love ethic. We know that human beings don’t agree all the time, and that’s fine, as long as you don’t judge or put your partner(s) down.
  • Being able to communicate and resolve problems together: To be able to collect your thoughts, describe your feelings, and letting your partner(s) know when you don’t feel comfortable with a situation or a personal matter. Allowing their to be space to actively listen, ask questions, and empathize. If there needs to be space before resolving an issue communicate that need. Acting on violence is abuse and will never be accepted.
  • Relationships are a roller coaster of emotions, and it is okay: People will have emotions with any and every relationship: (will feel sad, angry, jealous, etc) and how you react to your emotions can be either healthy or unhealthy. The key element in any relationship is to feel happy most of the time with your partner(s) and with yourself.

Woodbine Ecology Center Visit


 In October we took a weekend trip to the Woodbine Ecology Center  where we engaged in Healing Historical Trauma and Greif, Aquaponics and two hikes where we learned about plants and their healing properties and history of the land we were on and much much more.One of the things that was said that really stirred something in us was- we need to restore beauty to this world, rather than erase ugliness. So as a reminder to you all, our work can sometimes feel overwhelmingly filled with a magnifying glass to the ugliness of the world- but if we focus on restoring the beauty that we know this world has that’s when we can really see change. 

PBJ is an organization where youth can tune into their lives and reflect on their History, Trauma and have tools to create change. We were honored with the knowledge from amazing facilitators Rick, Robert, and Pavlos. So join us if you are interested in engaging with Social Justice topics!

PBJ Rocks!
Teachings from Robert Chanate about Colorado Native History
Teachings from Rick Garcia about healing plants and Aquaponics
Dinner time! Giving thanks for what we have in life and for the opportunities we are given

Why should you join PBJ?

(1) PBJ is a radical youth collective.


(2) We have a really fun (and educational) training in the fall including a sweet overnight retreat at a cabin up in the mountains!


(3) Being a part of PBJ is great for public speaking experience.


(4) It looks awesome, really awesome, on college applications (we write a mean recommendation letter).


(5) Learn about arts-based activism, making the world a better place and making a difference in your communities.


(6) Acquire the tools to build and maintain a website and blog.


(7) Meet other students from schools all around and throughout Boulder County.


And mostly because…


It’s really fun!

Apply today!

Long Distant Relationships and Abuse


With long distance relationships becoming more common, we hear more and more about the various successes and failures that come with the territory. Most of the time this option is not by choice. Careers, school and family are just a few of the factors that keep lovers whispering sweet nothings into phones instead of each other’s ears. But if you think a relationship is doomed because of distance, think again. According to stats compiled by the Center for the Study of Long-Distance Relationships (yes, there really is such a thing), the myth that most long-distance relationships fail is just that: a myth. The reality is that more couples are making it work than you might think. Over one million couples are living in separate U.S. cities today, and another 700,000 LDR couples are actually married.

However LDRs tend to create unique problems of their own, especially when abuse is called into question. Long distance relationships can become abusive just as any other relationship could. A video called “Emotional Consequences of Long-Distance Relationship,” by Dr. Paul Vehorn explains that such relationships are likely to have “neurotic responses.” He explains that this is most likely caused by one or both partners feeling out of control and particularly vulnerable because of the separation.

Beware of the warning signs of emotional abuse. These are the same in long-distance relationships as relationships without any distance, and include name calling, constant and baseless accusations of unfaithfulness, threats, manipulative behaviors, constant calling or texting, and control a partners time isolating them from friends and family.

If you are in a LDR, it is important to be aware of the warning signs of abuse. Long distance relationships can be rewarding and full of love, but the added stresses often put pressure on both partners leading to unknown and unforeseen consequences.

– Meagan Traylor

If you or someone you love is being abused in a long-distance or traditional relationship, please seek help:

[divider] Here are some resources… [/divider]

SPAN 24-hr Crisis and Information Hotline: 303.444.2424

MESA 24-hr Sexual Assault Hotline: 303.443.7300

Safe2Tell hotline: 1(877) 542-7233

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474



A person may stay with an abuser because they feel that they are personally responsible for that person’s happiness and well being.

If their abuser has other conflicting factors in their life such as a substance abuse problem or an illness the victim may feel it is their duty to aid them in their recovery. Also if their abuser has become physically dependent on them financially or there is a child in the mix the victim may feel obligated to stay as well. 


In this situation…

The important thing to remember is that you are not responsible for anyone’s happiness especially if it sacrifices your own happiness in the process. Relationships are not meant to be co-dependent. They are meant to have balance and benefit both people. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help someone you care about that is struggling, but it shouldn’t be at your expense.

-Madilyn Smith
Silver Creek High School


[divider] Here are some resources… [/divider]

SPAN 24-hr Crisis and Information Hotline: 303.444.2424

MESA 24-hr Sexual Assault Hotline: 303.443.7300

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474

Control doesn’t always end when a relationship does.

Control doesn’t always end when a relationship does.

Even after a break up a partner can make attempts to stay in control.





Here are a few examples…

  • Constant messaging- texts, calls, etc.
  • Begging you to take them back one minute and degrading you and calling you names the next
  • Threats to hurt/kill themselves if you break up with them
  • Spying on you- whether that be hacking onto your email or actually sitting outside your house


If you or a friend is in this situation the important thing to remember is the difference between actions stemming from a place of love or a place of manipulation. Someone missing you and wanting to be with you does not excuse or justify violating your boundaries.

– Madilyn Smith
Silver Creek High School


[divider] Here are some resources… [/divider]

SPAN 24-hr Crisis and Information Hotline: 303.444.2424
MESA 24-hr Sexual Assault Hotline: 303.443.7300
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474

Control can run deep in relationships.


I have learned from my own experience that abuse is not just about physical harm or even simply name calling. Control can run deep in relationships in ways that may go virtually unnoticed. Acts to keep control may be confused with acts of love or affection.



Here are a few examples…

  • Wanting to keep in constant contact- texting, calling, etc. and getting upset when you don’t get back to them immediately


  • Isolating you from loved ones- making you feel guilty for wanting to spend time with friends or family over spending time with them.


  • Wanting you to change- ex. urging you to cut your hair or wear certain clothes because they think you would look best that way.


  • These warning signs may be overlooked because they can seem thoughtful in nature, but the important thing is to trust your intuition. If your partner does or says something that feels invasive, or you find yourself losing balance in other areas of your life it may help to give yourself space to reassess the pros and cons of your relationship.


– Madilyn Smith
Silver Creek High School


[divider] Here are some resources…[/divider]

SPAN 24-hr Crisis and Information Hotline: 303.444.2424

MESA 24-hr Sexual Assault Hotline: 303.443.7300

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474

How to help a friend

[divider] Friends [/divider]

People often turn to their friends for help when they find themselves in abusive relationships.  Often people in abusive relationships have limited resources to find help.  If they come to you it is important to understand how complex abusive relationships can be and how difficult it might be to reach out for help.

[divider] Why don’t people leave? [/divider]

When you ask a victim of abuse “why don’t you just leave?” the person might not feel supported or might feel like you are blaming them.

People stay for many reasons:

because they are in love

they think the bad things might go away

they might feel responsible for the abuse

they might want to help the abuser

they might financially depend on their abuser


[divider] Barriers to getting help [/divider]

fear of hurting their partner’s feelings

fear that their friend will tell them to end the relationship

fear that they won’t be believed, understood, or that they will be blamed for what happened

fear that their parents won’t let them date anymore, or will get them in trouble

not knowing where to get help or how

fear that their partner will get mad and retaliate

not knowing how to make the situation better


fear of being judged

not trusting their abuser won’t find out

not wanting to admit it’s a problem

they might depend on their abuser for finances

they might be isolated from friends and family


[divider] Ways to help a friend [/divider]

1. Don’t gossip

= how could you make sure your friend knows you won’t talk with other people about their situation?

2. Believe the story

= what would you do or say that shows your friend that you “Believe the story?”

3. Tell your friend that they DO NOT deserve to be abused

= how do you tell your friend they don’t deserve to be abused?

4. Let your friend make their own decisions

= how do you show your friend they can make their own decision?

5. Make a safety plan

= what should your friend consider when making a safety plan?

6. Give help/resources

= SPAN 24-hr Crisis and Information Hotline: 303.444.2424

= MESA 24-hr Sexual Assault Hotline: 303.443.7300

= National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474

= Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN): 1.800.656.HOPE(4673)

= Break the Cycle:

= Hear my Voice (LGBTQ youth):

= That’s Not Cool:

= Love is Respect:
[divider] Summary [/divider]

If a friend comes to you for help, you now know that:

1. It can be difficult to seek help

2. To support a friend, you can show them you understand, believe them, and want to help.

3. You can also point them to community resources and let them make their own decisions.