MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and for service members and their families aboard the installation, it is a time to refresh their memory about the consequences and resources available if they are ever involved in domestic violence incidents.
Tanya Stuckey, the prevention and education manager with the Family Advocacy Counseling Center, said domestic violence has been observed in October for nearly 30 years.
“On October 17, 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence declared a national day of unity on behalf of battered women across the country, and in 1989 Congress officially named October as Domestic Violence Awareness month,” said the native of Newport, N.C.
Domestic violence can be broadly classified as any intentional physical or psychological harm caused by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as a marriage, friendship or cohabitation. According to http://www.dvrc-or.org, the Domestic Violence Resource Center Web site, one in four women have been victims of domestic violence at one point in their lives. Women account for 85 percent of intimate partner violence, men for nearly 15 percent.
Stuckey said there are several things that can lead to domestic violence.
“Stress is a contributing factor,” she said. “Whether it is work-related, family, financial, legal or alcohol-related issues, there is no excuse for abuse. Oftentimes perpetrators of violence are raised in an environment where violence is used to get needs met. Violence is a learned behavior and without education of more appropriate coping skills, some turn to violence as a means of getting their way or when they do not know how else to communicate that their needs are not being met.”
Peter Morris, the Family Advocacy Program branch manager, said the consequences service members face for being convicted of a domestic violence incident can be harsh.
“A domestic violence charge can affect reenlistment, depending on a number of things, most significantly how serious the violence was,” said the Los Angeles native. “However, it is ultimately up to the service member’s commanding officer to decide what the full implications of a domestic violence charge will be.”
A domestic violence charge can cause bigger problems than the ability to reenlist, like being discharged, fined and even jailed.
Stuckey said a person has to be brave to come forward about being abused physically or emotionally by a loved one, and there are several resources available to victims.
“All Marines, sailors and their family members have access to victim advocates, chaplains, domestic violence shelters and hotlines,” she said. “Military OneSource is also a resource that will assist in finding additional services.”
The Family Advocacy Center offers a Couples Communication Workshop the first and third Tuesday each month at the Family Advocacy Center to provide couples with tools to build and maintain healthy relationships.
Morris said the class is a great way for couples to find healthy ways to work through their problems and ultimately strengthen their relationships.
“The communication workshop is an opportunity for individuals who have noticed that they aren’t always communicating as well as they’d like to get
some outside, unbiased feedback and pointers on how to improve their communication style,” he said.
For more information about the class, or to set up an appointment, call 830-4950.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence and need help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE.