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Recognizing Domestic Violence

U.S. Air Force Airman Jodi Lange, 20th Medical Support Squadron, poses for an illustration photo depicting an abused woman silenced by her abuser as a result of sexual assault, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. March 25, 2012. Studies show that men, women and children of all ages, races, religions, and economic classes can be and have been victims of sexual assault. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Ashley L. Gardner/ Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman Jodi Lange, 20th Medical Support Squadron, poses for an illustration photo depicting an abused woman silenced by her abuser as a result of sexual assault, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. March 25, 2012. Studies show that men, women and children of all ages, races, religions, and economic classes can be and have been victims of sexual assault. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Ashley L. Gardner/ Released)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- The month of October brings awareness to domestic violence. Domestic violence is a serious problem whenever it happens, and in order to conquer this problem, one must be educated and know that there is hope and help. The issue can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused or denied.

According to Helpguide.org, recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help. Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. While physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic violence and abuse are also severe.

Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy self-worth, leading to anxiety and depression. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it.

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. Other signs include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of helplessness and desperation. Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power which include dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.

“Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only – to gain and maintain total control over you,” said Phyllis Jeter, 94th Airlift Wing director of psychological health. “Some of the most common risk factors for domestic violence include insecurity or a history by the offender of violent or emotionally abusive behavior towards a partner, child or any other person.”

Other risk factors are jealousy, abuse of power and control in the relationship, witnessing or experiencing violence as child, stalking, abuse of alcohol or drugs, or reporting high levels of stress or depression, said Jeter. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

“Unfortunately, domestic violence is mostly underreported,” said Brande Newsome, 94th Airlift Wing sexual assault response coordinator. Extensive resources focus on prevention, intervention and treatment.

Family advocacy at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia is the Air Force program responsible for domestic violence treatment and prevention, said Newsome. In conjunction with other base helping agencies, the program provides a range of treatment option, with a shared goal of fixing problems between family members or couples in order to prevent problems from escalating to maltreatment and violence.

“Stress management, couples communication and anger management are a few of the courses offered,” said Newsome.
Additional programs that are offered in prevention of domestic abuse include parenting education and relationship enhancement classes.
Another resource available to Airmen and their families is the chapel. The chapel supports resilient, nonviolent relationships through marriage retreats and seminars, couple’s communication workshops, couple’s scripture studies and classes.

Everyone should be aware of the signs and risk factors of domestic violence and abuse. If you suspects that someone you know, whether a child or adult, is experiencing abuse or neglect call Dobbins SARC Office 678-655-4031, SAPR Helpline 678-758-5844, 24/7 DoD Safe Helpline 877-995-5247, Georgia Commission on Family Violence 1-800-334-2836, National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233, Georgia Network to End Sexual Assault 404-815-5261, or subject expert Kim Washington 404-657-3413.

The key to stopping domestic violence is to stop it before it begins. Be the person who takes the time to care.