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Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Throughout Oct. a silent witness display of silhouettes of an adult female and male, a pregnant woman, young girl and boy, and an infant will be posted at both the main gate and Missile road gate to represent all of people affected by domestic violence and to honor those who have lost their life due to domestic violence. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Kimberly Dagdag)
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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Posted 10/9/2012   Updated 10/9/2012 Email story   Print story


by Kimberly Dagdag
82d Training Wing Public Affairs

10/9/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Ribbons are often used as symbols to serve as a reminder and help raise awareness for a cause; teal ribbons represent sexual assault awareness, pink for breast cancer awareness and red for substance abuse just to name a few. During the month of October, Sheppard will sport a purple ribbon in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Throughout the month Family Advocacy and several other agencies will be hosting events to remind Team Sheppard of the resources available to them to help prevent and stop domestic violence.

To kick off the month a silent witness display of silhouettes of an adult female and male, a pregnant woman, young girl and boy, and an infant will be posted at both the main gate and Missile road gate.

"The display is to help the community move past generalizations, because domestic violence can affect anyone, not just women," said Sheri Ward, Family Advocacy Outreach Coordinator "It also serves a voice to recognize those who have passed away as a result of domestic violence."

Domestic violence can take many forms, the most common being physical, but other forms include emotional, financial, sexual and neglect.

"Because they are not visible like physical abuse, many people are not aware of financial and sexual abuse," said First Lieutenant Tryphena Ellis, Family Advocacy Officer "Financial abuse aims to take control from the victim by limiting their monetary resources and access to help. Sexual abuse occurs when a partner's, even if it is your spouse, right to consent is ignored."

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It crosses all socioeconomic boundaries. Military members and civilians alike face the same stressors including money, work, children and unexpected life situations. Sheppard offers several support programs to help service members and their families work through times of stress and hardships.

"We offer free classes on everything from anger and stress management to marriage and family," said Ward.

The Sheppard Family Advocacy office has seen a 64 percent decrease in the number of referrals from last year and out of those referrals only nine met criteria to open a domestic violence case.

"75 percent of what we do is prevention which occurs through required annual training, offering free classes and groups to help manage stressors, and counseling," said Ellis.

Community involvement is the key to raising awareness for domestic violence. From 2007-2011, 94 percent of the cases that had an incident and were treated at the Family Advocacy center have not reoffended.

"Sometimes an intervention is all that is needed to have a 'light bulb moment,' where the abuser realizes their behavior is unhealthy," said Ellis.

A common misconception is that taking preventative measures will somehow have a negative impact on your career. This belief is not true. Classes or groups can be attended anonymously allowing people access to the resources needed without the negative stigma.

"Prevention is used so that an intervention which could impact your career does not happen," said Ellis "Our prevention services are confidential and are not documented in the permanent medical record."

Domestic violence is a secretive behavior and the cycle of violence is often difficult to break without intervention, which is why it is important as a Wingman to know the warning signs. Some warning signs include personality changes, injuries and excuses and frequent absences from work.

"If you suspect something, be a good Wingman and ask. If you do not feel comfortable, tell Family Advocacy," said Ward. "I have a saying that is useful in many situations, when in doubt check it out."

Family Advocacy, the Airman & Family Readiness Center, the Chaplains and many other agencies are available to help families deal with particularly tough times. Many of the available resources are 100 percent confidential.

"We cannot tackle the issue alone; it takes all of Team Sheppard to prevent and stop domestic violence," said Ellis

For more information on classes or programs, contact Family Advocacy at 940-676-2271.

Additional Contact Numbers:
Airman & Family Readiness Center - 940-676-4358
Chaplain Services - 940-676-4370
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program - 940-676-0365

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