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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Russell Cook Family Advocacy Outreach Manager

Domestic violence is a serious crime and should be taken seriously. Sadly, there are times the victims of domestic violence do not want to cooperate out of fear for themselves or others. Please understand that you are not alone if you are suffering from domestic violence. Domestic violence cases have steadily increased with the stressors experienced due to deployments, wars and financial difficulties.

There are resources available to help you, and the hardest step in seeking help is to admit there is a problem. Some military spouses do not report incidents of abuse because they don't want to jeopardize the abuser's career.

When one hears of domestic abuse, they often imagine a woman, cowering from an abusive husband, but women aren't the only ones to suffer from domestic abuse. Men can fall victim too, but are least likely to report. Domestic violence does not only entail physical violence.

Children who live with domestic violence often react with changes in behavior. They may have trouble controlling their feelings and will act in ways that make life even harder for the family. Some common changes are tantrums, aggressive behavior, and sleep problems. Children might also stop following directions or play in ways that mimic scenes of violence in the home. If your children react in ways like these, you can take steps to help them feel more secure and in control of their emotions and actions.

If the person abusing you is a civilian, the military has no jurisdiction, but this does not mean that you cannot report the abuse and receive help from your military organization. After reporting abuse, the military can turn over the information to the civilian authorities and provide evidence. In some instances, if your civilian abuser is convicted of domestic violence against you, they can be barred from entering onto the military premises if they do not work there. If they work on the military installation, you can request a protection order that will specify that they cannot come around you or where you work.

Your options are different if the abuser is in the military, and the military will handle the situation by either referring the case to the military justice system or the Family Advocacy system. These systems are not joined together, but are two entirely different systems.

The military justice system is an organization created for discipline, and the Family Advocacy system was created to investigate, intervene and identify the underlying problems associated with domestic violence. This system will examine domestic violence allegations, and if the allegations are substantiated, the report will be forwarded to the military justice system for evaluation.

Many domestic violence victims are reluctant to report abuse from a serviceman or woman. They fear the repercussions of what it would be to their career. Please do not let this fear stop you from reporting the abuse.

Think about it this way; you are worried about his or her life, yet they are not worried about their career, or your safety. You must protect yourself and your family at all times, no matter who the abuser is. To seek help on Barksdale, contact the Family Advocacy Program office at 456-6595. The Family Advocacy office will provide an array of programs and services to help eliminate the violence. They also provide guidance and support for spouses and partners who want to be safe or learn how to recognize unhealthy patterns of behavior that may end in abuse.