An Important Announcement from Garbo
Season 1

A Guide to Healthy Relationships with Katie Hood

In this episode of Reckoning, Kathryn Kosmides speaks with Katie Hood about healthy relationships. Katie is the CEO of One Love Foundation, a nonprofit that educates young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships, empowering them to identify and avoid abuse and learn how to love better.

In this episode, Katie discusses:

  • The signs of an unhealthy relationship
  • How having language to talk about relationship health helps people identify unhealthy relationships 
  • What should someone do if they notice that they perform unhealthily in relationships
  • How early exposure to unhealthy relationships as a teenager affects people as they become older
  • Suggestions for people who believe that they are in an unhealthy relationship
  • The legacy of Yeardley Love

Welcome to Reckoning a podcast that explores gender based justice, safety, survival, and resilience in the digital age, through conversations with experts and advocates. I'm your host, Kathryn Kosmides the founder and CEO of Garbo, a tech non-profit building a new kind of online background check. Before we jump in, I'd like to warn our audience, that we have raw honest conversations about gender based violence, which may be too much for some listeners. Please put your safety and health above all else when listening.

Kathryn: Today, we are talking with Katie Hood the CEO of One Love Foundation.

Katie, welcome to the show.

Katie: Thanks for having me, Kathryn.

Kathryn: Of course, we're really excited to have you on today. First, can you tell us a little bit about One Love?

Katie: Sure. One Love was started in 2010 after a young woman named Yeardley Love was killed by her ex-boyfriend at the University of Virginia. They were both weeks away from graduating, when she was killed. I got involved because her cousin is one of my closest friends. So the day that Yeardley was killed, I came in the front door as a friend to hear what had happened and I always tell people that story because having been there that day, one of the things I'm most struck by is how little people understood the risk that she was in.

We frequently will say, you know, they learned more over time and they realized that there were lots of signs that the relationship was unhealthy and increasingly dangerous, but because nobody around her really knew the signs, a domestic violence expert would have understood the signs, but because the average college kid didn't understand the signs, nobody knew what to do. Nobody had a language to talk to each other about what was going on. No one knew where to go for help. So, One Love was created soon after she died by her family who really wanted to honor her life. And over time, as they learned more, they shifted One Love's focus to really making sure that young people understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, so that they have a language to talk about them and they can understand what they're seeing and they can get out before it becomes abuse.

Kathryn: So powerful. Let's talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships for a second. Can you talk about the 10 signs of an unhealthy relationship? I know this is like a core pillar of the work, at One Love.

Katie: Yes. So our 10 signs is really designed to create a common language that everyone can have. when I started doing this work, we realized that, and I would say to people, you know, one in three women and one in four men will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime. People looked at me with disbelief, like the numbers can't be that. And then when I would say, well, they would say, well, what does that mean? And I would say, well, it's physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. And candidly, a lot of the people would go emotional abuse. What is that? And we started to realize that actually, well, first of all, the research shows that emotional abuse is even more damaging when your mental health than physical abuse, believe it or not.

We also learned that or saw that emotional abuse is sort of, what's been normalized in our society emotionally unhealthy behaviors. So it's really hard to recognize the warning signs, because so much of the unhealthy behaviors have been normalized. So as we started our model for teaching, as we create films that show like real life scenarios. So, teenage couples, college aged couples and their relationships, and then we get them talking about those relationships and what they saw in the context of this 10 signs framework. So our 10 Signs of Unhealthy Relationships were really designed to sort of point out the things that are so frequently missed that are unhealthy and that if they become a pattern can actually become abuse. and as we did that work and really tried, and some of those signs mean there's intensity, possessiveness, isolation, sabotage, the process that we use with the people we serve is we actually define these terms and what they mean and how they show up so that people know what they're seeing.

A lot of what we do, I think is putting words to what is usually coded as emotion and sometimes confusion, something doesn't feel right, but you don't know how to talk about it. So our 10 signs are designed to give everyone a common language. the 10 Signs of Healthy Relationships were created second, because as we started talking about unhealthy, the natural question that young people wanted to know is, well, what does healthy look like? So then we started working to define what things like, comfortable PAs or trust, honesty, equality. What are these things? How do they show up in the context of our relationship? So in every way we think it's a lot about language and making sure everyone has the same language to talk about relationship health, which is something brand new.

Kathryn: I think, growing up, I've experienced a lot of unhealthy relationships. And like you said, did not have the words for them. And so this is really powerful to be able to have a common language for everyone.

Katie: Right. And I think it's also, I do think it's new. I think that, one of the things that we think doesn't work, and we know this from all the people that we've advised on how to help a friend who's in an abusive relationship. If you focus on comments, like you should just leave them there or loser, or you should leave them. They're abusive. It's very hard for the person in the relationship to really take that advice because they actually care about the person that you're criticizing. So when you put the label on them, they might reject you instead of hearing you, same applies to something like bullying, which all kids learned about bullying, and so-and-so is a bully.

When you label a person, sometimes the bully is your best friend, and sometimes you can't connect at the behavior you're experiencing, goes with what you stereotype about the label for the person is. So our goal was, this was really to focus on behaviors. So as opposed to saying that made me feel bad, say that really, was intense. That was too intense for me, or that was too volatile, like putting a label to the behavior that caused your feeling. and we think that that's pretty important and they're pretty important tool to give everyone.

Kathryn: I love that. I think that is super powerful to kind of change that the framing of your emotions into, into real words, there's a quote on the website while everyone does unhealthy things. Sometimes we can all learn to love better by recognizing unhealthy signs and shifting the healthy behaviors.

Kind of what you just mentioned about like being labeled a bully or an abuser. Like what if someone realizes they are the one performing these unhealthy behaviors?

Katie: So I think actually one of the most interesting things, one of the things we really try to do is be honest, that relationships are hard. None of us have been taught. Emotions are involved, we're all gonna make mistakes. I do this for a living and I still do unhealthy things. It's just part of being human, but you can't become healthier unless you're educated and empowered with this language. And this ability to communicate it is not at all uncommon, in one of our workshops or even when we have employees come to work with us for the first time as they start getting immersed in these 10 signs and thinking about relationships all the time, they know, oh my gosh, like I've got some problems or I've got some issues.

And the answer is like, well, that, that doesn't mean. And we're not saying that if you're in an abusive relationship, this is really about unhealthy. When you recognize that you have an unhealthy response to certain things, you can be more intentional about dealing with that. So if, for example, if you realize that you tend to be possessive, you tend to have a hard time giving a person their space to have their own independent life. If you're aware of that, then before you act in a relationship you can think about, is this fair or is this me and my tendency to be possessive? And how can I experiment with giving my partner more space? Right? But until, you know, the signs, it's really hard to do that. So what we prefer to phrase this as instead of like, some people are good and some people are bad is that all of us can work on this.

That the first step is understanding the signs and the next step is putting it to practice and nobody's ever going to be perfect, but we can all be better.

Kathryn: No, I love that. I think it's not a yes or no or one or the other, you're not good or bad. Like you said, we're all human. And there is very much a spectrum of that humanity. And we all do unhealthy things. Like you said, we weren't taught how to have healthy relationships and therefore, unhealthy tendencies will naturally occur, but if you have the words for them, you can begin to see that in yourself and say, wow, that was possessive. Or, that was, you know, intense. So I think it's, it's so great to be able to have that, that vocabulary, like you talked about.

Katie: I think one of the things that keeps people in abusive relationships is sometimes there's actually bi-directional unhealthiness. And so I'm meaning that, there's unhealthiness on both sides. That's upping the ante and because it's both sides, it's easy to think, well, it's just our world. We just have a lot of, drama in our relationship or the highs are highs and the lows are lows or things like that. Versus being able to say, actually, it's unhealthy though. This level of volatility is unhealthy, whether I'm bringing it or whether my partner is. So even if we love each other, maybe it's a sick love. Maybe it's an unhealthy love. And I think it helps pull you out of this idea that you're either in love, or you're not. Now you can start looking at the healthiness of your love and do you have more of the healthy behaviors or the unhealthy behaviors going on every day?

And then you can begin to work on those things together. If you choose to work on those things or, or realize that, you know, maybe this is too unhealthy of a relationship and it's worth, exiting the relationship.

Kathryn: Yep. Agreed. So One Love is really focused on working with students who are just forming their first relationships, but we also know that childhood abuse is pervasive, right? One in nine girls and one in fifty three boys under the age of 18 experienced sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adults. So how does this impact teens first relationships?

Katie: Well, what we, what we know also in addition to those stats about child abuse is that young women aged 16 to 22 are at three times greater risk for being in an abusive dating relationship as any other demographic. So it's not only that they're, it's, frequently, people's first dating relationships are abusive.

Now some of that may be because of patterns that happened in their homes with child abuse, or maybe they were victimized before. So their sense of what's normal and right is different, or maybe they're more vulnerable. in general, we do have a great hope that, well we think abuse is sort of everywhere, but yet we're not really talking about it. This idea of normalization, of unhealthy and abusive things, it's everywhere. It's not just in our homes, it's in the media, it's in civil discourse. It's the way we talk to each other. It's everywhere. So we have to fight that norm and put out there that there's a better way to be. And not only do we hope that that will affect the health of people's dating relationships and ultimately maybe marriages or partnerships over time. But if you learn these things, how does it change the way you parent, how does it change the conversations with you have with your kids?

So we think the first step is getting to young people at the earliest stages of their dating relationships to insert a new frame for how they should think about their relationships. They're affected by however they grew up, some have good models, some have bad models, some kids have experienced abuse, some haven't. But what's the new frame we want to give them and their friends for thinking about relationships on a go-forward basis. What's the new model we want to put out there. So if we put out that new model, now, one of the reasons credit card companies and political companies, target sort of teens is a lot of the opinions you form in your teen years, or the brand loyalties or the decisions you make about who you are in the world are formed during that time of your life.

So if we get to two young people with what I think is actually a really empowering model and frame to be looking at your relationships through, maybe we recruit them for life and maybe it affects every relationship they have from here on out. Now I'm not naive enough to think that this is some sort of vaccine and I'm really not. But I think this idea of inserting a frame that asserts something that's contrary to what you might be absorbing every day in your home or on TV or whatever, that this is the right approach to doing it. And, I am also optimistic some of the research on ACEs, which is adverse childhood experiences, which has taken on a whole life of its own. It's really shown that when kids experience traumatizing events, whether it's abuse or divorce or violence in the home or whatever it is, the more ACEs you have, the more adverse your life outcomes are.

But the thing that I am encouraged by is that it also shows that positive relationships can actually have a therapeutic effect. So you may have had all these bad things happen, but if you can suddenly learn to have better relationships and have better relationships in your life, it's not like you're down for the count forever. You can actually sort of, work against some of the negative that's happened before. So in a dream world, the work that we're doing would empowering kids to have a better chance of having healthier relationships on a go-forward basis, even if they had experienced abuse. Okay, that's, that's powerful. And like you said, it's not just sexual abuse or assault. It's any traumatic experience that a child could go through that that changes their experience with relationships and those relationships can also be friendships. I also see that what the work that you're doing really permeates every type of relationship someone might have the relationship with their parents, the relationship with their friends, romantic relationships.

Kathryn: I see it impacting the entire sphere.

Yeah. I think that we were started for one reason. We honestly believe that there was an information gap and better information could have led people to connect the dots in different ways and potentially save her life. So, we really started because we want this information to get this high risk age group so that they have a better chance of not ending up in the same situation that she ended up in. But that being said, as soon as we identified the signs as a frame to teach through, it was actually the people that students, the young people that we were serving, who said, well, wait a minute, this isn't just about dating. This is my friendships. Like I have a friend who does these things where my parent has done these things or whatever it may be.

And as we work with adults, many say, oh, I had a boss that did this stuff. So what I've gotten more excited about is, yeah, our ultimate focus is we want to change the stats around relationship violence and have the next generation get in less abusive relationships, better outcomes for them around their dating and romantic lives. Because intimate partner violence, domestic violence are massive problems, that we just haven't really dealt with. Head-on that being said, this frame is much more broadly relevant. And so we're even doing now, or, most we started out using our program in college and the college students we taught were like, you need to introduce us in high school. We brought the program to high school was you need to introduce us in middle school. And now we're even developing a cartoon series for elementary school. That will be all around these behaviors in the context of friendship.

Because if we can teach young people early, how to name the behaviors and understand what they are, it won't just help them in their friendships. But by the time they get to their dating relationships, it's going to be sort of embedded in their brains. Well, wait a minute, that's volatility, wait a minute, that's isolation, wait a minute, healthy relationships have independence. If we can get that language and that frame inserted early, they're going to use it more often because that's the one thing working in our favor is that we are all in relationships every day. So every day we can practice seeing the signs and work on healthier relationships in our lives.

Kathryn: Totally, exactly. What's what's the number one red flag someone should look for if they think they might be in an unhealthy relationship.

Katie: The red flag, I like to point to the most is the one I think is the most missed. It's also one of the earliest ones and that's isolation. Isolation is when you, the person who is controlling or abusive really pulls you away from your support system you had before you were together and really tethers you closely to them. It's about establishing control and reliance and you as the center of their universe, which is sort of an element of all of this, isolation frequently is misunderstood to be, we are so in love. We just want to spend all of our time together. And by the way, that happens too, when you're in a new relationship, it's exciting. You just want to be with this person all the time, you feel so great, it's amazing, but you have to really pay attention to when you start to feel like requirements are being put on you to leave behind parts of your life you don't want to leave behind.

So maybe that is that your new boyfriend or girlfriend really doesn't like the Thursday nights — your night with your friends, maybe they start saying like, you know, I want you to be with me, not with them. They're bad influences on you. And you have to learn to see that and understand that. I understand you feel that way, but this is really important to me. And these are my friends and I want to stay connected to them because one of the things that happens in an abusive relationship that's really destabilizing is you lose your connections with your support network, and then the shame builds. And then you, you don't have people to go to when you really need help. So I always talk about isolation because it can be so flattering when someone wants you with them all the time.

But at the same time, if you're feeling out of touch with your family or your friends, or the, hobbies and activities that were really a big part of your identity in your life before you dated, and as importantly, you don't feel like you can talk to your partner about that because it's going to make them mad. That's a really big red flag. I would say, that's the second red flag. I like to point to, I think in abusive relationships, people tend to start making decisions based on trying to manage down how their partner's going to respond.

So instead of saying, what do I want to do? And how do I express that? You say that will make this person angry. Therefore I'm not going to do it. And I think being aware that that anticipation of how to mitigate someone's response is really coming into your own decisions about what you stand up for, what you assert, how you speak is another sign to pay attention to.

Kathryn: I'm just sitting here nodding my head because it's, so true having experienced an abusive relationship. One of the earliest signs was isolation was of them saying your friends are a bad influence. Your mother's a bad influence. You know, you should move in with me, et cetera, et cetera. And so it definitely is. And as you said, then it brings shame. And then you find yourself in this incredibly abusive situation and you don't have that support network, or you think that you don't have that support network, because real friends and your family will be there for you. When I was able to escape, I went to my great aunt's house that I hadn't talked to in 10 years to just get out of the city and my mother helped me and my old friends helped me. And so, you know, it's so true that isolation is the number one thing.

And as you said, it seems like a form of flattery when it's happening and it's definitely not. And then you also said about stepping on toes, essentially. And I remember making so many decisions. I think you lose your autonomy completely in unhealthy relationships. You're no longer making decisions about what do I want. It's what is going to make this other person happy, or what's going to set them off and what do I do? And not in the relationship.

Katie: Yeah. And I would say, like, it's not a bad thing in a relationship to think about what will make somebody else happy when you're doing that though, to avoid a negative response. They're going to explode, they're going to get angry, they're going to harp on me. Then you really need to look at it. A relationship is partly about doing things that make the other person happy.

But if it's because you're afraid of the response, that's problematic. And I think to your point about, your friends will be there. It's totally true. One of the tactics I see is not only like your friends are bad influences, but actually, and this gets back to the point about sometimes there's real love between people, but it's just really sick love. And so this thing that they're against us, they never liked me, puts you in a position where you want to defend for them because there's parts of this person that you probably actually like. And that's the other thing, the biggest misconception when I'm talking about relationships is that people end up in abusive relationships must have low self-esteem. It drives me crazy. I would say it's much more likely that people who end up in abusive relationships are helpers who, really want to help the other person.

So they're particularly vulnerable to being sensitive to other people, not liking that person, because they know the troubles this person's been through, they want to help them. They want to advocate for them. Now, the consequence of being in an abusive relationship, where you lose your autonomy, I always say it's like falling down the rabbit hole and Alison Wonderland, it happens over time. The consequence is you can have low self esteem as a result. There are mental health consequences for being in an abusive relationship, but I don't think people with low self-esteem end up in abusive relationships as a prerequisite. I think that's the victim blaming. Yup. It's just like, of course, it's your fault. You have low self. So you find yourself in this situation. I think it's part of what lets us distance it and think that wouldn't happen to me or my kid.

So I think domestic violence, I think the funny, it's not funny, nothing about domestic violence is funny. Nothing about relationship abuse is funny. I have come to think it is something that is so deeply threatening to humans, sense of safety that somebody they care about or love could be abused or be in an abusive relationship or abuse them that we put up all these walls to think about why it would never happen to us. So I think it's victim blaming. Yes, but I would also say that it gives us an element of control, which is if my kid is confident or my kid is this, they're not at risk. And I think there's sort of an artificial, it's a protective instinct actually at sometimes as well.

Kathryn: No, that's, that's so true. So if, if someone finds themselves in an unhealthy relationship in a sick relationship, what do you suggest that they first do?

Katie: Well, I think understanding the signs is super important. So, someone asked me the other day, like, how do you know your work is having impact? And we hear from people all the time I saw your program, I understood my friend was experiencing these signs, or I was experiencing these signs. And then I knew what to do. So I think understanding the signs and being able to label what you're going through is definitely the first step. I think the second step is trying to assess like how risky it is. If you're catching some of these things on the early end, before like a real pattern of control has been established before it's become potentially physically abusive. You may be in a different situation than if it's really early on and you're recognizing, wow, we've got a lot of volatility in this relationship. We've got a lot of possessiveness.

You have to evaluate your risk. I also think you have to fight the shame and bring people into your fold and share with people what's going on. It's easier to share with people what's going on when you have a language. and so I think back to this idea of why we care about educating everyone, if I'm in this relationship, I recognize the signs and I know my friends understand the signs too. It's a ton easier to talk to them. Then if I don't know how to talk about the issue, I'm not sure what the signs are, and I'm not sure they have any idea what they're talking about. So I think those three things of you know, really understanding the signs, understanding how dangerous your relationship is and starting to bring people in to get help. The time in a relationship that's most dangerous is time of breakup.

In Yeardley's at least case, she had broken up with her killer four days, five days before, that is like a breakage of control that can cause people to snap. So frequently friends will say you should just break up with them. That is not always the right advice. And then learning to, talk to people, safety plan, bring other people into the circle, not try to just handle it on your own, is really important. I definitely have talked to people who when the situation is deemed volatile and risky enough will actually have their family come in and do an intervention with the person and say she is leaving tonight, this is why, that's not riskless either, but I think coming up with a plan where you can manage your safety best as possible is really important. If you're much further along in these relationships.

And I should say relationships can get dangerous quickly. So we're much further along doesn't mean that you've been in a relationship for five years. It could be that it just very intensely developed over a short period of time. And all of a sudden you find yourself in over your head that can still be a super dangerous relationship. 100%. It actually, I think it happens much faster than people realize. I always say abuse is never a punch to the face first, rarely does someone just punch you in the face. They do things first. They have unhealthy behaviors, and emotional abuse, first financial abuse, right? And then it turns physical and sexual. And all of those things are super unhealthy, super dangerous. And you should realize that you have a support network that is there for you. And if you don't feel like you have that support network, there are resources out there available to you.

Kathryn: Like hotlines, even lawyers, you can call a lawyer and they often help you. There's nonprofit organizations that are all there to kind of guide you through this process. And it really, when I was in my relationship I didn't know where to turn. I was like, yeah, I'm in this situation. And like, I had shame with my mother, you know, and shame with all my friends. And so I just like pick up the phone and call the hotline and was like, please help me. You know? And they laid out the steps to what I should do. And what safety planning actually is, because as you said, if we don't have the vocabulary for what's happening or what we should do, we don't know what to do. So like safety planning for example, is something that a lot of folks have never heard of.

Katie: Right? Exactly. And I would say, I think it's really important to demystify the hotline. So the National Domestic Violence Hotline is an incredible resource and it has a sister it's part of the same organization. But Love is Respect is a chatline. It's, more for teen relationships, younger relationships. You can call the hotline no matter who you are say, you're a friend with concerns, say, you're experiencing this yourself. Say you're somebody who recognizes these behaviors in yourself. You can call the hotline and talk to someone it's anonymous. All they'll ask you for is your city and state that you're from. And the reason they ask you for that is, well, obviously partly to track trends on one calls, but even more importantly than they can pull up local resources. So you talked to this person you'd share with them what you're going through.

Sometimes it's like, I need to get a divorce. I've been in an abusive relationship for 25 years. I don't know where to begin. I don't feel empowered, I have no money. So they can direct you to pro bono counsel in your town or in your state that will take your case on and give you advice. So basically they help you not only process what you're going through, but direct you to the local resources that can really help you. And I think if I had one goal in life, I would want everybody to know this exists and that, even if you're a friend, you can call the hotline and get their help and understanding. They always prefer the actual person in the relationship or not prefer, but really friends can't make their friends leave a relationship.

Friends can help their friends gather information about who they could call. But you can do that. You can call the hotline or texts Love is Respect and get incredible valuable information from amazing advocates who've been doing this for you.

Kathryn: I always say that the hotlines really saved my life. I don't know what I would've done without them. Safe Horizons, getting connected with them. They helped me file my first order of protection in the court system, because obviously like once everything goes down, you have no idea especially if you're forcing for the legal system to do an order of protection for safety, you have no idea what the steps are. You're not taught this anywhere. And so they are a tremendously valuable resource, a stabilizing force in a very unstable time.

Katie: Yep. I totally agree. I totally agree.

Kathryn: So we've been talking a, not about unhealthy relationships. So what are some signs of a healthy relationship?

Katie: Well, we have 10 signs, that range, I mean, you know, taking responsibility, healthy conflict, fighting as a normal part of a relationship, learning how to have conflict in a healthy way is critically important. Independence is a big one. Like a healthy relationship is two people who have independent lives and who love being with each other, but they don't lose their independent lives. Respect and equality, when there's mutual decision making versus one person making all the decisions. I think comfortable pace is a really important one because sometimes relationships rush ahead and inside, you're sort of feeling like I'm not sure I'm comfortable with how fast this is, but you may not be comfortable verbalizing it. So what we're trying to do is identify these flags and then empower kids to talk about what these signs are.

I always think back. I think if I, I wish someone had told me when I was young, that learning to talk through things that make you a little scared to talk about is really how you learn to be better in your relationships. So let me give you an example, comfortable pace. If you think about early relationships, at least in my case, sometimes I was in relationships where somebody wanted to move faster than I did. And sometimes I was in relationships or I was where I wanted to move faster than they did. I had no idea how to have that conversation about pace. Instead, it ends up blowing up and like, you get ghosted by somebody who was like, oh my gosh, you're freaking me out. And then that leads to all these other issues or like you're too intense with somebody.

If young people could learn to be like, listen, I just want to have more upfront conversations about pace and comfort zone and not necessarily interpret as they like me, or they don't like me based on what their responses, but just learn that part of learning to be with somebody is learning the comfortable pace for both. I think that would be like a huge step in the right direction. I also think, you know, these two are very related, honesty and trust. I think in early relationships, you learned to keep things from each other sometimes versus talk through the hard things. And obviously some of that is age appropriate. Like part of this is we're all growing up and went to our teenagers and we're learning about this. But if we could learn how to have honest conversations and work through conflicts in a more productive way, I think you just shortcut so much pain.

So again, nobody is going to be perfectly healthy all the time. That is not the goal. It would be impossible and we'd never put it out there that way. But what we're trying to do is increase the intentionality with which people think about the behaviors they want to bring to their relationship every day. So for example, my husband and I, we have a super honest relationship. Sometimes that honesty can lead to a fight. And sometimes we result that resolve that fight in a healthy way or an unhealthy way. So there's hideous fraught, but the honesty has formed the basis of really deep trust. So we know we don't keep things from each other. There's things he does that I don't like. There's things I do that he doesn't like. We know where we are, and that means we trust each other. When you have that foundation of trust, you can get through a lot of this other stuff more easily.

So it's all very interlinked. I do think people have both strengths and weaknesses sometimes on one behavior, more than others. Sometimes it's just generally needing to improve the healthiness overall. But again, it's the intentionality we bring with it and practicing healthy versus unhealthy more often. That's important. I love that. I think intentionality is, is a really important word to use in this conversation. Because as long as you are being intentional about learning or unlearning different behaviors, you can be a healthier person overall and be in healthier relationships overall. But if you're not intentional, if you're willy nilly about the relationships that you're in, or you find yourself, you know, not wanting to have those conversations or hiding things from your partner, all of those things that are not necessarily like super unhealthy, but just a, what's the word I'm looking for?

Just a kind of, it's like a liability. It's like a vulnerability in your relationships.

Kathryn: Exactly it, and vulnerability in yourself that then manifests itself in the relationship.

Katie: Right? And so learning these healthy and unhealthy signs can help you do a lot of self work. I agree. So I'll just be being way too personal. Healthy conflict is my biggest thing I struggle with because I am very sensitive and I tend to shut down. So when I anticipate that there's going to be a conflict or we're having a conflict and this can be again with my husband can be with my kids, can be with my family, can be with my work. It takes on a whole life of its own within me, that reduces my ability to deal. So I have to start being much more intentional about, okay, your fear has struck in your anxiety has struck it.

So how are you going to do this? Conflict is normal. Conflict is part of human relationships. What can you do to actually not shut down and show up in a positive way? And I've been working on this for a long time. It doesn't mean it's not still my Achilles heel. It is, but I'm much better at it than I used to be. I can, at least after I shut down, which still happens, say, I'm so sorry. I shut down. I'm really bad at healthy conflict. And that counts for something that actually counts for something. It doesn't excuse the shutdown, but it shows that you're aware and you can return to the table with the apology and go from there. So I think that, the more you dive into this, again, the big advantage is we practice relationships all the time, just for most of our lives, we're doing our relationships and we don't know what we should be practicing. Right? And so that's what we're trying to do is really show what you should be practicing and show  how behaviors should be. You should be trying to adapt.

Kathryn: Exactly, exactly. And the fact that anyone can access these 10 unhealthy and healthy signs of a relationship on the website. So anyone can learn right now what the signs are.

Katie: And we're really committed. So the 10 Signs, our framework, but it should be pointed out all of our films, all of our blog posts, they're freely available to anyone that wants to use them in their communities. We've built our stuff with an eye towards empowering non-experts to teach about this. We raise money so that we can make them freely available to folks. join one is our website and there's tons of stuff there. We're also going to be introducing this fall our educational center where you can actually get trained to use the tools and resources in your classroom or on your team or with your fraternity or sorority or whoever it is.

You can actually do training online. We think even though a lot of us don't have the frame for thinking about relationships in almost every way, relationships are the thing we have the most experience in. So we think with proper framework and relatively minimal amount of training, you can really be empowered to bring this knowledge to your communities, your friends, in a way that helps them and you lead healthier lives 100%. Is there anything else that you'd like to leave the audience with today? I think I would just say, you know, like I said, in the beginning we started this work because one family realized that they had an information gap and that that information gap costs their daughter her life. If anyone had known what they were really seeing, if anyone had known how to talk about it, if anyone had known where to go for resources, she might be alive today.

I think we then learned that people have so much stigma around domestic violence. They don't want to think it's relevant to them, or it could happen to them, but the stats show it is all around us. The stats show we all know someone. And so it means it's an issue we all should really care about. We did learn, you have to talk about it from the health standpoint versus the abuse and violence standpoint though, so that people can hear what you're talking about and engage. But the really awesome thing is this broader relevance of relationship health. And I think that's what I would leave people with. we care, we think about our mental health. We think about our physical health, our relationship health can directly contribute to both our physical health and our mental health. It's a root cause issue.

So while yes, we were started to try to affect the stats around domestic violence. It's really important that relationship health become an issue that everyone focuses on because it is a root cause issue. It's also in this world where there's so many problems and there are so many things that are out of our control. It's actually something you, whoever you are can start working on right here, right now in a way that helps you and helps your community. So I want people to feel empowered by what we're teaching and really view it as a way to dive in and start making changes that can affect your life, your community's life, and have a much bigger effect maybe than we even realize down the road. Super powerful and I 100% agree, and I've never actually heard it be phrased that way, that, you know, mental health, physical relationship health, as you said, we're in relationships all day, every day.

It's the one thing that we actually should be experts on, but are not because we aren't actually trained in having healthy relationships. So I do believe that putting that work in understanding first ourselves and then other individuals that we have relationships with is the best first step. Well, thank you for letting me come and talk to you about the subject. Obviously, I appreciate any chance to speak with people who are also driving change and leading in important ways. And I appreciate your support of One Love and your belief in what we're doing.

Kathryn: Of course, my pleasure. Thank you so much for being here today.

Katie: All right. Thank you. Kathryn.

Reckoning is a podcast produced by Garbo, a tech non-profit building a new kind of online background check. Our executive producers, Amani Nichols with whisper and mutter. Please subscribe to the show via your favorite podcast app. And as always, please send your questions and comments to

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