Healthy relationships fireside emphasizes handling conflict


Peter Yoo/The Daily Northwestern

Laura Stuart, coordinator of sexual health education and violence prevention for Center for Awareness and Response Education, talks about the work of the center at Wednesday’s fireside on maintaining healthy relationships.

Sarah Tassoni, Reporter

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, a fireside discussion Wednesday night focused on dealing with issues such as stalking and the importance of maintaining healthy relationships and handling conflict.

About 20 people attended the “Healthy Relationships Fireside,” where students talked about their experiences, provided advice to each other about how to deal with conflict and played games that facilitated discussion. Northwestern’s chapter of Active Minds, the Center for Awareness and Response Education and Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators co-hosted the talk.

NU Active Minds secretary Celeste Mora introduced the discussion by talking about her experience with stalking. She said when she met her ex-boyfriend the summer after her freshman year, he had been dealing with harassment from a girl he used to date.

“I decided that because I thought this guy was really nice, and I was stubborn, ‘Let’s get you some help,'” the Weinberg senior said.

Mora and her ex-boyfriend went to University Police and managed to get a restraining order, but it did not prevent the girl from targeting them online. She said the girl started sending her threatening e-cards and harassing text messages, and she even created a fake Facebook profile for Mora’s then-boyfriend. She said the girl waited outside of her dorm in her car one night.

The couple went back to UP and succeeded in getting most of the online content deleted, but the process was still “difficult.”

Although the stalking eventually stopped, Mora said she learned the warning signs for stalking can start early.

“If you’re starting to feel uncomfortable with how much someone wants to know about you, get help,” she said.

The event also included a discussion about how the law deals with online stalking. Laura Stuart, coordinator of sexual health education and violence prevention for CARE, mentioned the state of Illinois passed, at the request of advocates, a new stalking no-contact order that includes online communication as well as in-person interactions.  The law went into effect in 2010.

“It was passed because people asked for it,” she said.

The remainder of the event included games facilitated by Weinberg senior Miriam Mogilevsky, programming chair for SHAPE. The “perfect partner” game involved rating the desired qualities one looks for in a partner, while another game polled attendees on the importance of commitment in sexual relationships. Students also broke out into groups to discuss methods for dealing with relationship conflicts.

The games prompted discussion about qualities in significant others and how to deal with conflict.

“All relationships have conflict and it’s just a matter of how you deal with it,” Mogilevsky, a former Daily staffer, said.