JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. Base leadership and domestic violence advocates are encouraging everyone to be part of the solution and “speak up.”
“Everyone plays a role in upholding the military values and standards that support safe, healthy relationships for everyone in the military community,” said Col. Daniel Morgan, JBLM installation commander. “Any time a military family member suffers from abuse, we fall short of our goals for readiness.”
Service members and their families are among those that suffer from domestic violence. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in four American women and one in seven men aged 18 and older have survived severe physical violence by an intimate partner. On average, physical abuse in the U.S. occurs in approximately 20 relationships per a minute.
“People don’t always see this topic as important unless it has a personal impact,” said Master Sgt. Ruan Brits, 4th Airlift Squadron first sergeant. “This month makes people more aware of domestic violence and how it impacts us all.”
Foreign to some who have not experienced it firsthand or who can’t identify it, domestic violence is more common than many people think, said Karen Fox, JBLM family advocacy program specialist.
“Domestic violence is not limited by sex, rank, race or status; everyone is susceptible,” said Fox. “In the majority of the cases, if victims were to reach out and get help we’d be able to prevent many of the incidents we’ve had.”
Anyone can make a difference by recognizing the signs of domestic violence, offering support and knowing what resources are available, said Fox.
“I would encourage Airmen and supervisors to get to know their Airmen they work with and their families,” said Brits. “It’s important that we have open personal communication so that we can identify things outside of the norm.”
Although not always easy to detect, signs of domestic violence potentially occurring can be seen through recognizing major life stressors, said Hope Perini, JBLM family advocacy program lead victim advocate.
“People think what happens behind closed doors is none of their business, but when it comes to safety it is,” said Perini. “We need to observe stressors like finances, medical issues, or infidelity, and support families going through these situations.”
Though commonly physical abuse, domestic violence can also be emotional or sexual abuse, said Fox. Emotional abuse can be name calling, isolating, financial control, or preventing a partner from having access to transportation.
“Service members can help each other by realizing questionable and unhealthy behavior in a relationship,” said Fox. “Name calling in a relationship can often be an indicator of an unhealthy or abusive relationship.”
The family advocacy program allows victims of domestic violence to make reports unrestricted or restricted so they can remain anonymous. They also offer free counseling and advice to anyone who might be experiencing domestic violence or knows someone who is.
Victim advocate are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached utilizing the JBLM Safeline: 253-966-7233 (SAFE).