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IN THE NEWS

From Montana Prevention Coalition Communication

[Montana Prevention Coalition Communication Post – April 2017]

Gaining acceptance into a close-knit, rural community as an outsider is always difficult process.  Here is my story from McCone County. ~ Melissa Kostelecky, District II Prevention Specialist.

Circle, with a population of roughly 600 people, is the McCone county seat and only town of significant size in this historic farming and ranching community. I live in Sidney, 75 miles away in Richland County. I grew up in much smaller Wibaux so I knew I could relate to a small town and was determined to see it through. In a year’s time, with trial and error, changing strategies, and locating a few kind people to carry the message without me around, we finally started to see some progress.   During that time, I developed positive relationships and reassured the community that my role wasn’t to highlight problems but to assist in finding proactive solutions and overcome barriers. Now I am privileged to have the support of the McCone County Commissioners, the Public Health Nurse, the County Attorney, the Sherriff’s Office, the Circle Country Market and most importantly, the school staff and the school board. Recently, the school board asked if I could help incorporate prevention education into the prom and all that anticipatory time leading up to it. The school board felt as though the students knew they shouldn’t drink, but would benefit from some of the reasons why they shouldn’t that they could relate to in the context of the Prom. This launched the development of our multi-pronged awareness-raising “PROMise Campaign.”    We began by creating a small card that gave 5 reasons why students should have an alcohol-free prom night, and had them attached to the prom tickets purchased by students. When the card was finished, the school board suggested a letter that could be sent home to the parents with 5 tips on how to keep their child alcohol-free on prom night. Again, this allowed them to choose the tips they felt would be a best fit for the parents of the students in their school. PROMise flyers were also created, the students placed them prominently around town and in the school. On the big night, tote bags with the PROMise logo were handed out that contained water bottles also wrapped in the logo along with other prevention education materials.

To bring education to Alcohol Awareness Month, the Guidance Counselor invited me to speak to a few health classes about the dangers of underage drinking on a developing brain and body. The first class I taught had thirty six 7th and 8th grade students, and the second had fifteen 9th and 10th grade students. Because the school felt this was such a huge success, they have invited me back to speak to the seniors about the negative effects alcohol can have on plans after high school graduation.  

Building proper relationships, understanding the community climate in order to navigate it accordingly, along with persistently encouraging education have helped me reinforce the importance of Underage Drinking Prevention efforts in McCone County (AKA capacity development). Witnessing the community become receptive and getting involved has made all of the challenges and hard work feel worthwhile. 


Is it toxic to treat your partner the way they treat you?  

For instance, you are not treated like a priority to them nor do you feel like it, whilst you treat them like they’re a priority to you.  But after a while, you start noticing that you treat them like how they treat you.  Is this toxic to a relationship?

  • Over time I started acting like him.  I think it was my subconscious way of trying to show him how it felt to be mistreated, but of course, it amounted to nothing.  You can’t show someone how you feel if they don’t care about your feelings in the first place.  It’s a harsh but necessary truth.
  • As the old man on my street would say:  “partners are not for playing volleyball on either side, they are to play on the same side”.  The point being you must complement and complete each other.  You know, like the good cop, bad cop style.  I think the “priority’ will follow for any reasonable person.
  • To grow a relationship in a healthy way the biggest thing I had to stop doing is taking that extra step.  When you are annoyed or angry it’s very easy to that one more thing that doesn’t feel like it will be that hurtful but still is in a little way.  If you are interested in staying with your partner one of you has to take the step to stop the toxic cycle.

Respect is so often thought of as the key ingredient to a great relationship, but it’s a concept that’s hard to define. When it comes to respect, most of us know when we’ve been disrespected.

What we expect when we ask others to give us respect is harder to define.  Respect may mean different things for different people.  There’s the Golden Rule; Treat others the way you want to be treated.  And then there’s the Platinum Rule.

Basically, the Platinum Rule is the ultimate definition of respect:  Treat others the way they want to be treated. 

In order for someone to treat you the way you want to be treated, you must be very clear about how you want to be treated or they have to be a mind reader.  If you feel disrespected by your partner, be very clear in your communication with the.

When you feel disrespected say ‘I need you to _______’ and state the new behavior that you would prefer to see instead.  For example, you might say ‘I need you to speak to me with less anger in your tone.’

Little research has been done on respect because until recently, it had not yet been defined as something that could be measured.

Researchers attempting to study respect in relationships created a definition that included the following psychological traits:

*loving *caring *understanding *honesty *loyalty *listening openly *not abusive or judgmental *considerate

In another study on respect, the same researchers found that respect was so highly correlated with relationship satisfaction that it seemed to resemble the same concept for research participants who were surveyed.

  1. Your partner tells you what is wrong with you – No one is perfect and you certainly don’t need your partner to keep reminding you of that.  It’s hard enough for you to accept our own faults without a reminder.

If you hear this from your partner, it’s a sign that they don’t respect you.  Tell them that there’s nothing wrong with you, and although you may make a mistake from time to time, you would prefer to hear about all the positive things that your partner likes about you.

  1. Your partner doesn’t listen to you – Listening is a basic sign of respect and both of you should have a chance to listen and speak your minds.  When one partner interrupts, talks over, or shows disdain for the other person when they are speaking, communication begins to break down.

Responding to your partner when they speak is essential to a respectful relationship.  In a study of mindfulness and relationship conflict, researchers found that being fully present in the moment could help couples to feel more respect for their partner after an argument.

The mindfulness study showed that ‘mindfulness may play an influential role in romantic relationship well-being.’ You may recall from our article that it is possible to maintain your cool during an argument with your partner.  Try some deep breathing, tighten your abdominal muscles and focus on maintaining emotional control while you work through your problem.

  1. Your partner always gets to have things their way – A successful partnership has to be a two-way street.  One of you shouldn’t’ be always getting things their way.  Compromise, especially on things that are not your top priorities, is key to a respectful relationship.

When your partner tries to control and insists on having things their way, it is a sign that they do not respect your needs.  Try asserting yourself, especially when it is important to you.  If your partner still will not allow you to have things your way, tell them that their behavior is unacceptable to you.

  1. Your partner disrespects your friends or family – Your partner doesn’t have to love your friends or family like you do, but they need to treat them respectfully.  As a couple, you will be spending time together in the future and part of your lives together will include family time.

It is important to a healthy, respectful relationship for you and your partner to have a good relationship with each other’s friends and family.  Even if you are only civil to each other, respect for your loved one’s loved ones is important.

  1. Your partner is frequently unkind – Respect begins by not causing anyone harm.  This includes not hurting feelings intentionally.  Everyone is responsible for his or her own words and actions.  Intentional name-calling, belittling, angry words, threatening language, or even a judgmental or accusing tone are all ways that your partner might show their disrespect.

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