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Cultivate healthy relationships

Cultivate healthy relationships

During October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, International Day of Non-Violence and National Bullying Prevention Month are recognized. Experts encourage awareness of warning signs and to reach out for help in order to create healthier and stronger relationships. (Courtesy graphic)

Cultivate healthy relationships

Susan Imhoff, El Paso County Public Health community health educator, meets with Ellicott Elementary School families for an All About Bullying Night class at Ellicott Elementary School, Ellicott, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Oct. 3, 2017. The class provided parents with information and resources regarding bullying in schools and prevention methods. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Arielle Vasquez)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

October features Domestic Violence Awareness Month, International Day of Non-Violence and National Bullying Prevention Month.

Schriever experts highlight the importance of practicing awareness, prevention and response as well as the importance of making a year-round effort to cultivate healthy relationships and mutual respect.

“Primary prevention focuses on reducing interpersonal violence from occurring within our community as a collective Team Schriever effort,” said Dr. Ken Robinson, 50th Space Wing Violence Prevention integrator. “We focus on everyone, whether there are presenting risk factors or not – preferably we don’t want anyone to be at risk. Helping our community build healthy relationships, often produces resilient Airmen and family members.”

Children learn behaviors from an early age that affect how they handle relationships and conflicts throughout their lives.

“All kids need to know they are loved and experience a safe, secure relationship with their parents or other caregivers in order to thrive,” Robinson said. “We are designed for relationships - it is from cradle to grave. We do best in safe, secure, loving and attuned relationships, which is called secure attachment. Unfortunately, not everybody grows up with this. For those who don’t, they often learn to withdraw under distress and not trust others to be there for them. This is why it is crucial to develop healthy bonds from an early age.”

According to Robinson, those involved in relationships, especially couples, may experience times of drifting apart from each other. This may cause more arguments, feelings of anger which expressed are often attempts to deal with feelings of disconnection.

“Some causes of unhealthy relationships are poor role modeling, trauma, immaturity, lack of self-esteem, selfishness and poor communication,” said Shirley Crow, Family Advocacy Program domestic abuse victim advocate. “When one listens to respond or argue rather than listening for understanding, this can be seen as a lack of respect and cause more issues.”

There are many risk factors related to violence, such as power control, stalking, intimidation and manipulation.

To combat this, building and maintaining protective factors can establish the security needed to maintain a positive lifestyle. Once one has protective factors in place, the individual can begin to focus on themselves, and create stronger and healthier connections with those around them.

‘Safe Haven’ is a clinical term for a secure and healthy relationship,” Robinson said. “This is the best protective factor. If people can work on individual resilience, relational resilience and take part in classes we offer, they would have a winning ticket. This would allow people to thrive, focus on the mission and feel better about themselves and other people.”

Robinson wants Airmen and their families to know they have plenty of support at Schriever. Prevention and many Schriever Integrated Delivery System programs and workshops are designed to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors. 

Programs available to Airmen include Green Dot Bystander classes, First Term Airmen Center classes, Wingman Day courses, couples workshops and many more.

“There have been great strides in the awareness of violence and the numbers of programs to support and help,” Crow said. “Law enforcement, judicial agencies and the U.S. military are all learning and growing in their knowledge and response. We live our entire lives being in relationships; it is important to maintain positive ones as it will bring great happiness and richness to our lives.”

Robinson added if Schriever members have questions on how to develop healthy relationships, or questions about the programs that are available they can contact him or Jessica Schroeder, 50 SW Community Support coordinator. Many resources are available including the Military and Family Life Counselor Program, Family Advocacy Program, victim advocates and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office.

“Reaching out for help can be intimidating; however if you take the first steps like talking to your first shirt or wingmen, this makes a difference,” Robinson said. “It is my personal and professional belief that people do so much better when they are in safe, secure and healthy relationships. If you are struggling and things are not going well, let us help you. The result of safe haven relationships are people who are healthier, happier, and more resilient. If this is the case, you can take on world together and as an individual.”

For more information on programs and assistance, contact 567-4357 (HELP).

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