Domestic Violence Awareness Month a call to prevent, assist

By Beth Reece

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Mildred Muhammad pleaded for help from the fear and psychological trauma “D.C. sniper” John Muhammad inflicted on her and her children. He used words rather than fists or weapons to terrorize them, she wrote in her book “Scared Silent.” But the lack of physical scars left others skeptical of Mildred’s claims until police announced her husband was responsible for the sniper killings in the Washington, D.C., area in October 2002.

Mildred’s story is more common than some people think. One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every October, National Domestic Awareness Month is observed to prevent domestic abuse and intimate-partner violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines domestic violence as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over a partner. It may include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence and emotional abuse.

Help is available for Defense Logistics Agency employees who become victims of domestic violence and those who know someone who is, said Laurie Brown, family programs manager for DLA Installation Support. Military and civilian employees should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Agents are prepared to lead callers to the proper military resources or local crisis centers and shelters, Brown said.

DLA employees should feel empowered to take a stand to end domestic violence, she added. “If someone trusts you enough to reveal to you that they’re being mentally or physically abused, don’t run from it. Make sure they’re safe or get them to help,” she said.

Warning signs of abusive behavior include strict control of the victim’s appearance and finances, extreme jealousy, frequent putdowns and insults, as well as restricting the partner’s access to family or friends. Victims may show fear around the partner, frequently change plans at the last minute, and exhibit injuries with explanations that don’t make sense.

The following tips could help change a person’s life:

  • Listen without judgment.

o   Focus and listen fully to the victim’s words.

o   Offer to sit with them when calling for information or reporting abuse.

 

  • Let them know you believe them.

o   Help them feel comfortable about getting help.

o   Let them know that abuse can happen to anyone, and it’s not their fault.

o   Tell them you’re concerned about their safety and assistance is available.

 

  • Support their decisions.

o   Respect the way they want to handle the situation.

o   Encourage them to reach out for help and guidance.

 

  • Ask what more you can do to help.

o   Know about resources like national hotlines and the Family Advocacy Program on military installations.

o   Call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 for resource information.

 

  • Seek out support for yourself if you need it.

o   Get help if you feel overwhelmed, helpless, frustrated, angry or guilty as you help a victim deal with domestic violence.

 

Tips to help victims keep themselves safe from an abusive spouse or partner are available at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-and-wellness/prevention-care?content_id=282307.

 

Military spouses can find details about reporting options at http://www.militaryonesource.mil/health-and-wellness/family-violence?content_id=282308.

 

Additional resources include the National Domestic Abuse Hotline website at http://www.thehotline.org/help/.