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Choosing Healthy Relationships

Relationships can be complicated. But it’s important to prioritize open communication and safety. Dr. Shelly Soltis, family physician at Grand Itasca, shares some ways to give your relationships a check-up and choose to make them healthier.
  • March 10, 2021
  • By Staff Writer

Relationships are important in our everyday lives. They contribute to the health we enjoy, or they can contribute to our unhealthy habits as well. Signs of an unhealthy relationship can include:


  • Being controlled by your significant other

  • Fear or not wanting to be around your significant other

  • Being denied resources (most commonly, where only one partner is in control of the money)

  • Poor communication

  • Not being allowed to do activities or spend time with people that you used to enjoy—such as friends or family members


According to Dr. Shelly Soltis, Family Medicine Physician at Grand Itasca, abuse in relationships doesn’t always look the way we expect. “We are most commonly used to looking for physical abuse, which can show up as bruises or threats of being hurt by your significant other.” She continues, “Or it can be sexual abuse, where you're forced to have intercourse against your will.” But Dr. Soltis says that the subtler, more common forms are emotional and verbal abuse, which are not easily seen. 


Emotional and verbal abuse can include not having control of money or resources, not being allowed to leave the house, being restricted from visiting with friends or family members, and being called names. 

Unexpected Signs

Emotional abuse and verbal abuse can present as increased stress to your body in the form of:


  • Migraines

  • Abdominal pain

  • Lack of sleep

  • Anxiety


Other mental health disorders can also become more apparent when we are under significant emotional or verbal abuse. Professional help can be sought for abuse or unhealthy relationships.

How To Find (or Give) Support

What should you do if you feel uncomfortable in your relationship, or if you know that things are going in the wrong direction with bad communication? Dr. Soltis believes it’s wise to be proactive. “Sometimes it's better to get ahead of it by seeking counseling, and turning that relationship around to become a healthy relationship.” 


Dr. Soltis adds, “If you are in a situation where abuse is happening, get professional help sooner than later. Especially if you feel like your safety is at risk, or if there are children involved whose safety is at risk.” 


If you have a friend that's being abused, we recommend being there to help them by:


  • Being a listening ear

  • Helping with transportation

  • Watching their children if they're getting help

  • Noticing activity or behavior changes in them


If you are close to the person needing help, another important way to help is to be their safety person. You might help them create a secret word or phrase to let you know when they’re feeling threatened, or find a safe time to talk with them privately about their relationship.

Get Help Now

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are multiple ways to reach out for help:

  1.  At Grand Itasca, we have nurses and doctors who are very well trained and ready to help you manage your situation. Please contact us by phone, or send a MyChart message to your provider.
  2.  Any school counselor is able to help you and your children with domestic violence concerns.
  3.  Call the national hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. 


By choosing any of these options, you’ll take the first step toward healthier relationships.