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Respect: Workshop educates teens on healthy relationships

Teens at the Fort Rucker Youth Center participate in an exercise depicting what they think a healthy relationship looks like during a teen dating violence awareness and prevention workshop Feb. 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Teens at the Fort Rucker Youth Center participate in an exercise depicting what they think a healthy relationship looks like during a teen dating violence awareness and prevention workshop Feb. 19. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: February 25, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Feb. 25, 2016) -- As teenagers get older, dating becomes a part of life, but Fort Rucker wants to make sure that teens on post know how to make the right decisions when it comes to dating.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and the Fort Rucker Army Family Advocacy Program sought to educate teens on building healthy relationships with a teen dating violence awareness and prevention workshop at the youth center Feb. 19, said Karen Abad, AFAP victim advocate.

“We want to get involved with the teens here at the center to help promote healthy relationships, not only among the teenagers, but with their families, as well,” she said. “The goal is to improve life management, enhance self-esteem, and improve communication skills and marital relationships.”

Throughout the workshop, Abad and fellow victim advocate, Katie Duncan, discussed topics such as relationships, respect, peer pressure, and even hit on topics like abuse – physical, emotional or sexual.

Of all the topics discussed, one of the standout themes was respect when it comes to relationships.

“Respect is a big part of relationships and part of that respect is being able to respect boundaries,” said Duncan during the workshop.

In addition to respect, the team focused on having open communication within relationships.

“To be a good partner, you’ve got to listen and learn about them,” said Duncan. “You’ve got to be honest and build that healthy relationship through communication.”

During the workshop, they discussed the seven principles of smart relationships, which include: seeking a good match, paying attention to values, not trying to change the person, not trying to change oneself, expecting good communication, not playing games and expecting respect from one’s partner.

Despite all of the principles, good relationships don’t always happen, and in the event that a relationship becomes unhealthy, Duncan said they should realize it and seek help, if necessary.

“If you’re in a relationship and you’re experiencing any kind of abuse, whether it’s verbal abuse, emotional abuse, physical or even sexual, you need to talk to someone,” she said. “Talk to your parents, guidance counselors or even the police, if necessary. It’s important to report these things.

“If you’re in a relationship with someone, that doesn’t give them the right to pressure you into anything – you have the right to say ‘no,’” she continued.  “If you feel like someone is violating your boundaries, it’s your opportunity to look at that and think if this is emotionally abusive to you. No one should ever coerce or guilt you into doing something you don’t want to do.”

After the discussion portion of the workshop, the teens participated in an exercise where they were split into groups and had to draw out what they thought a healthy relationship looked like.

They were able to collaborate with each other during the process, and upon completion they shared with the rest of the teens what their views of a healthy relationship involved.

Some teens shared images of family gatherings and holidays, and others expressed simply loving one another and taking the time to respect other people.

For Jerome Davis, military family member, the course was eye opening.

“I thought it was an interesting discussion,” he said. “You don’t really get to talk about things like this too much, and I think it’s helpful when you have the chance to have a discussion like this, especially when it can be an uncomfortable subject to talk about sometimes.”

“The main thing, if anything, we want the teens to take away from this is that they need to strive to have a healthy relationship,” said Abad. “There is a lot of stuff that was shared during the session, but if they take anything away, they need to make sure it’s healthy.”

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/163019/

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