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UCI CARE Discusses Relationship Abuse and Healthy Relationship Development in Relationship Workshop

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UCI’s Psychology Student Association welcomed UCI’s office of Campus Assault Resources and Education (UCI CARE) for a virtual workshop, where they discussed identifying signs of relationship violence and how individuals can work towards developing healthy relationships, on Nov. 3.

Since its foundation in 2005, UCI CARE has aimed to provide “free and confidential support services to members of the UCI community” who are impacted by factors like sexual assault and relationship abuse. Their resources include support services and campus-wide education about the prevention of both abuse and assault. UCI care also provides various opportunities for individuals to become involved with their advocacy.

Betsy Serrano, a coordinator for UCI CARE’s Right to Know (RTK) and Challenging All Men to Prevent Sexism (CHAMPS) programs, opened the evening by reviewing general concepts important to understanding domestic violence and abusive relationships. 

“The first one is consent,” Serrano said, “It is an agreement between participants to engage in an activity. It should be clearly and freely communicated, where a verbal and affirmative expression can help both parties understand and respect each other’s boundaries.” 

When an individual is in a relationship, they can become blind to the violence they may be experiencing; they may begin confusing abuse from their partner with affection. The second term Serrano defined was relationship violence. 

“Relationship violence includes physical assault, battery, sexual assault or other abusive behavior used to exert power and control over an intimate partner. It can include physical, sexual and psychological violence, as well as emotional abuse,” she said.

Kylee Ocampo, a coordinator alongside Serrano, highlighted this occurrence by presenting an informative video titled “Don’t Confuse Love and Abuse.” The video was produced by Day One, a non-profit organization that aims to end dating abuse and domestic violence. The video depicted signs of abuse within a blossoming relationship. 

Ocampo mentioned other red flags to notice in abuse through the “power and control wheel.”  

“Every spoke on the wheel exemplifies different types of violence and degradation that survivors face,” Ocampo said. “Using your financial status to express what you contribute to your partner can be considered economic abuse. ‘Children reproduction,’ in a different form, involves using children to coerce your partner. They can be placed into the middle of the relationship situation, making your partner vulnerable.”

Serrano and Ocampo then highlighted what a healthy relationship actually looks like and what aspects are involved in promoting a healthy relationship.

“Three aspects that we wanted to point out are communication, trust and respect. Communication involves talking openly about your feelings, acknowledging that a conversation is a two-way street. Trust is [the] foundation of any relationship, where you can rely on your partner and feel comfortable [and] safe. Respect includes consent and equal partnership,” Serrano said. 

“Many of these factors work in conjunction with each other. Incorporating trust, accountability, cooperation, safety, honesty and support are all linked to respect in a healthy relationship,” Ocampo said. Ocampo and Serrano then discussed the five love languages and their roles in nurturing love and companionship. 

The five love languages are receiving gifts, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation and quality time, each of which “depict different ways people express love and like to receive love,” according to Serrano.

“Since the basis of a relationship involves communication, addressing you and your partner’s love languages gives an indication of what you and your partner consider important to meet each other’s emotional needs.”

To conclude the workshop, Serrano and Ocampo emphasized the importance of self-love, which is all the more important for stressed and overworked college students.

“All five love languages can be [applied towards] ourselves. Treating yourself makes you feel good about yourself. Having the time to also self-reflect will allow you to assess how well you’ve been doing as well. Daily affirmations, which are similar, are comments you can use to surround yourself with good energy. They can be little things, but they are little things that go a long way, especially when you’re taking care of yourself,” Ocampo said. 

UCI CARE will continue to offer workshops on self-care tools. They will also continue their in person-series on online dating later in November. To learn more about these events or other resources offered by UCI CARE, visit their website

Korintia Espinoza is a STEM Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at