Airing Out The Dirty Laundry

  • Published
  • By Cecilia Diaz
  • Family Advocacy Outreach Manager
Domestic violence happens every day, and to raise awareness, October is designated as Domestic Violence Prevention Month. Air Force leaders are keenly aware that domestic violence affects not only families and communities but also mission readiness.

When we think about domestic violence, we imagine a woman or a man who has been beaten and battered. Abuse does not have to be physical, some men and woman experience emotional and sexual abuse from their partners. Domestic violence is a widespread problem that occurs among people of all ages, genders, races, different educational backgrounds and socioeconomic groups. Domestic violence should not happen but it does.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. This is equivalent to more than 12 million women and men during the course of a year. Nearly three in 10 women and one in 10 men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and have reported a related impact on their functioning.

Family violence is never acceptable. In many cases, family violence is a serious crime. Family violence of any kind may hinder a victim's ability to manage normal stressors. It may also make it difficult for the victim to feel safe.

Prevention is the key to preventing spousal abuse.

In an effort to help prevent domestic violence and reduce family stress, various programs are available at Spangdahlem to active duty members and their dependents. Family Advocacy and other helping agencies provide workshops and seminars for military families to reduce the isolation and stress that are sometimes a part of military life. FA provides anger management, couples communication, Dad's The Basics, parenting classes, and the New Parent Support Program to help manage stress.

Playgroups are another prevention effort to provide families the opportunity to develop friendships with other parents and socialization for their children. Such groups can be especially helpful to new families, single parents and spouses of deployed members.

The Mental Health Clinic contributes to domestic violence prevention efforts by offering psycho- educational tools, including how to master anxiety and stress, mood management and substance abuse awareness. When intervention and treatment are necessary, specialists are available for one-on-one assistance.

Domestic violence prevention is everyone's responsibility. All active duty members and civilian employees are mandated reporters of domestic violence. Reports can be made anonymously and will be addressed with sensitivity for all parties involved.

Don't be afraid. Some members are reluctant to seek help from FA or other agencies due to the fear of harming the active duty member's military career. However, when stress escalates to the point of domestic violence, maltreatment cases are opened as needed and information is documented in the families' medical records.

The community can also get involved with various domestic violence activities such as the Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is a visual display of t-shirts showing graphic messages and illustrations that have been designed by women, men, friends of survivors, sons or daughters of victims or anyone who has lost a loved one to domestic violence. The purpose of the Clothesline Project is to increase awareness of the impact of violence against women and men and to celebrate a person's resiliency to survive as well as to provide an avenue to break the silence.

Reducing domestic violence cases requires increased community awareness about the symptoms of domestic violence, such as control and low-self esteem issues, as well as the effects on the community.

This year Spangdahlem is hosting The Clothesline Project 2013. The Clothesline will be displayed in front of Spangdahlem's post office from Oct. 21-25. To participate in the event or for more information, please contact Family Advocacy Outreach Manager Cecilia Diaz at DSN 452-8279 or Civ 06565618279.