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Domestic violence: Break the silence

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany— A Saber team member displays a painted T-shirt with a message about domestic violence Oct. 17, 2013, for the Clothesline Project. This will be the eighth year the 52nd Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy office has put on this project, the T-shirt will be displayed along with many more Oct. 21-25 in front of the base post office to raise awareness of domestic violence. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dylan Nuckolls/Released)

A Spangdahlem Air Base team member displays a painted T-shirt with a message about domestic violence Oct. 17, 2013, for the Clothesline Project. Family Advocacy will support the ninth annual Clothesline Project in Octover 2014 in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Dylan Nuckolls/Released)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Spangdahlem Air Base and U.S. Air Force installations around the world will conduct awareness events during October in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The observance originated as a month-long campaign in 1987 and aims to promote advocacy, education and resources on behalf of victims and their families.

"This month, we recognize the survivors and victims of abuse whose courage inspires us all," said U.S. President Barack Obama in his Sept. 30, 2014, proclamation. "We recommit to offering a helping hand to those most in need, and we remind them that they are not alone."

Spangdahlem conducted a similar proclamation signing by U.S. Air Force Col. Peter Bilodeau, 52nd Fighter Wing commander.

"Spangdahlem Air Base joins with the United States President and Congress in expressing a commitment to eliminating domestic violence at Spangdahlem, nationally and internationally," said Bilodeau in the proclamation. "I urge all Airmen to actively participate in the scheduled activities and programs sponsored by the installation to work towards the elimination of personal and institutional violence against men, women and children."

The base's Family Advocacy Program will also support The Clothesline Project, a visual display of decorated T-shirts representing a domestic violence victim's perspective.  Spangdahlem's project, which began in 2006, will feature painted shirts hung from clotheslines throughout the base during the month.

Family Advocacy will also conduct publicity campaigns touting The Clothesline Project and Domestic Violence Awareness Month through the American Forces Network, 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs and electronic media outlets.

In addition to the month's events, Family Advocacy Program staff offer yearlong support for Airmen and their families. Such programs include relationship skills for couples, parenting classes, and stress and anger management.


Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence

Family Advocacy offered the following myths and facts about domestic violence:

· MYTH: Domestic violence occurs only in uneducated, minority or problem families.

· FACT: Domestic violence touches every demographic group--regardless of race, ethnicity, economics, class, sexual orientation, occupation, or education.

· MYTH: Anger causes domestic violence.

· FACT: Batterers are not angrier than anyone else. They use anger as an excuse and justification for their behavior.

· MYTH: Drugs and alcohol cause domestic violence.

· FACT: Drugs and alcohol can increase the danger level and have been present in at least 50 percent of domestic violence cases. Stopping the abuser's drinking will not end the violence.


Statistics and Characteristics about Domestic Violence

According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than one in three women (35.6 percent) and more than one in four men (28.5 percent) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

The survey also stated that approximately one in four women and nearly one in seven men in the U.S. population experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.

The survey highlighted the following as examples of sexual/physical/psychological violence:

· Sexual violence includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, and non-contact unwanted sexual experiences.

· Physical violence includes a range of behaviors from slapping, pushing or shoving to severe acts such as being beaten, burned, or choked.

· Stalking victimization involves a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics used by a perpetrator that is both unwanted and causes fear or safety concerns in the victim.

· Psychological aggression includes expressive aggression (such as name calling, insulting or humiliating an intimate partner) and coercive control, which includes behaviors that are intended to monitor and control or threaten an intimate partner.

According to a 2013 presentation for the U.S. Air Force Medical Operations Agency, several domestic violence incidents involved arguments preceded by heavy use of alcohol, coupled with a loaded firearm stored in an easily accessible location.

Several homicides and suicides were related to jealousy, or the offender's belief the victim was leaving the relationship.

The 2013 AFMOA presentation also identified the following lethality/fatality risk factors among many domestic violence cases:

· Attempted strangulation (if once---victim is seven times more likely to be killed, or has an 800 percent greater chance of being killed, by the same perpetrator.)
· Stalking (physical or virtual/cyber stalking)
· Offender threatens to kill victim and/or children
· Offender is a heavy alcohol or drug user
· Offender has access to weapons, especially firearms
· Victim feels afraid or unsafe
· Victim is leaving (or recently left) the relationship
· Offender has severe jealousy or extremely possessive of victim
· Victim Infidelity: either factual or perceived
· Offender is unemployed
· Offender has forced victim to have sex
· Abuse has recently increased in frequency and/or severity
· Pregnancy (Homicide is a leading manner of death for pregnant women)


What should you do if someone you know is affected by Domestic Violence?

The 2013 AFMOA presentation recommended the following steps for bystanders, supervisors, friends and wingmen.

· GIVE the Airman/couple the name and number of a counselor and strongly encourage them to seek help.
· ASK Airman for permission to follow up to confirm they went.
· ASK about alcohol use and recommend abstinence from use.
· ASK if there are accessible weapons in the home. If there are, recommend they be secured in the base armory or with a friend until the situation improves.


52nd FW Commander Proclamation for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

"As we observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we underscore Spangdahlem Air Base's commitment to building an Air Force where all citizens can live with dignity, work productively, and achieve our mission. Air Force families face unique challenges that may make them more vulnerable to family stressors which could lead to domestic violence.  Stress does not just come from deployments.  It also includes the long hours, intense operational tempo, the constant temporary duties, the exercises, and just simply raising a family in the military.

"Domestic violence is a national problem that cuts across socioeconomic, age, gender, ethnic, racial and cultural lines. National statistics reveal that it affects more than four million people a year. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Air Force experienced eight domestic violence fatalities.  This is unacceptable. Ending domestic violence requires a collaborative effort involving every member of our community.

"The ramifications of domestic violence are staggering.  Young women are among the most vulnerable, suffering the highest rates of intimate partner violence.  Exposure to domestic violence puts our young airmen in danger of long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm.  Children who experience domestic violence are at a higher risk for failure in school, emotional disorders, and substance abuse, and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence themselves later in life.  The Saber Nation is reminded that there is a zero tolerance for such behavior.

"Domestic violence can be prevented. This month -- and throughout the year -- let each of us resolve to be vigilant in recognizing and combating domestic violence in our community, and let us build a culture of safety and support for all those affected.  We encourage victims and their families and friends to seek assistance through Family Advocacy at DSN 452-8279.

"Spangdahlem Air Base joins with the United States President and Congress in expressing a commitment to eliminating domestic violence at Spangdahlem, nationally and internationally. I urge all Airmen to actively participate in the scheduled activities and programs sponsored by the installation to work towards the elimination of personal and institutional violence against men, women and children.

"In recognition of the important work done by Family Advocacy and victims' service providers, I, Colonel Peter M. Bilodeau, do hereby proclaim the month of October 2014 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month at Spangdahlem Air Base."



For further information about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, call Family Advocacy at 452-8287. 

For immediate assistance or to be put in contact with support services, call Family Advocacy, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at 452-7272 (0656561-7272), Law Enforcement (9-1-1 while on base or 1-1-2 from off base,) the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit www.thehotline.org.