By Deborah Hall, 436th Medical Operations Squadron’s Family Advocacy Program outreach manager / Published October 15, 2014
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) -- When life gets challenging, stressors can build and conflicts can escalate, sometimes leading to abuse. Preventing domestic abuse is fundamental to basic relationship maintenance. Partners in healthy relationships work together every day to nurture their relationship, taking care to address issues and concerns when they occur. Healthy relationships should be safe, respectful and positive.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the country and throughout the Department of Defense. Domestic violence is in direct conflict with the culture of dignity and respect fostered by the professional values of the armed forces. Unfortunately, almost 9,000 cases of the more than 18,000 incidents reported to the Family Advocacy Program in 2013 met DOD criteria for domestic abuse or intimate partner violence.
Relationships should be safe. Feeling safe in a relationship, both physically and emotionally, is essential. Individual and family stress can escalate and sometimes lead to domestic abuse. Abuse is never acceptable. Trusting your partner and committing to your relationship completely helps build a safe environment for both of you. "Fighting fair" through the use of nonviolent conflict resolution and being kind to one another are essential ingredients of a safe relationship. Learning to forgive, owning your mistakes, and apologizing also contributes to a healthy bond.
Relationships should be respectful. Respecting your partner is one of the fundamental ways to show love. Trust, mutual respect, and open communication are the foundations of a fulfilling and safe relationship. Healthy relationships must be nurtured and they require motivation, commitment, and ongoing work by both partners. Every couple faces challenges at some point. Working through those problems together in a healthy way can strengthen the relationship.
Relationships should be positive. For you, your partner, and your children -- put effort into your relationships. Supporting your partner and working together as a team toward a common goal contributes to an enjoyable relationship. Encouraging those you love and being a good example for your children pays great dividends. Children learn about relationships by watching the people they know best. Set an example by practicing healthy relationship skills with your partner. Most importantly, enjoy life together!
We all have a role in preventing domestic violence. In our roles as wingmen, military members, military spouses, and DOD civilians, look out for each other and act to promote the safety and well-being of all. Be alert to risk factors for domestic violence, such as: family discord, extreme jealousy, and behavioral health concerns; and encourage early intervention. Being an observant and caring wingman may help a military member preserve their family, health and career.
As a good wingman, how can you help? Good wingmen know that seeking help is a sign of strength. There are a significant number of resources available to Airmen that support healthy, nurturing relationships. By knowing these resources and encouraging your fellow Airmen to seek assistance during times of need, you are creating a wingman culture of caring. We are all members of the Air Force Family -- a relationship to be nourished, resulting in a culture of caring.