During my last year of law school, I was given the opportunity to intern with Crisis Line & SafeHouse, a nonprofit organization that provides services for victims of domestic violence and their families. CL&SH’s mission is “to provide community crisis intervention as well as safe shelter, comprehensive support, and recovery services for victims of sexual assault and military domestic violence, and to educate the community about the cycle of violence and its prevention.”
I learned so much during my time with such a wonderful organization. Before my time there, I will admit, I was not aware of the staggering statistics involving domestic violence abuse in the United States.
What I found out through research and working with clients truly shocked me, and I wanted to be a part of the solution. It was heartbreaking, but also rewarding, to provide clients with family resources and also represent them in court in order to obtain protective orders from their abusers. Toward the end of my internship, I was also able to work with a legal and grant-writing team to submit a grant proposal for a Family Advocacy Program at nearby Robins Air Force Base. This was when I also learned of the detrimental statistics surrounding domestic violence within military communities and on military installations.
Ever since my time at CL&SH, domestic violence awareness and prevention has been a cause for which I care deeply. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here are 3 things you need to know about domestic violence:
Domestic violence is an issue in our communitiesThe National Network to End Domestic Violence reports that one in three women have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. There are also reports showing a rise in domestic violence amid military families. Domestic violence includes the following: physical violence such as hitting, grabbing, choking or slapping, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, emotional abuse and stalking. These acts are committed by a current or former partner-- someone who is currently or formerly married to or dating, or who shares children with the victim.
There are numerous resources available for those who need help with a military domestic violence issueThe National Domestic Violence Hotline, Military OneSource (locate a victim advocate in your area), Real Warriors Live Chat, and the Family Advocacy Program (victim advocates who can walk you through the reporting process) on your military installation. However, despite these resources, many victims are still afraid to reach out. Without a support system guiding them toward safe shelter and help, these victims suffer in silence.
We can play a role in raising awareness and helping with the causeIt’s important that we all stand up to domestic violence, especially in our military communities. While many service members and their families face tremendous stresses during deployments and during reintegration, there is no excuse for violence toward love ones. The DoD Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign suggests the following steps to help promote domestic violence awareness and prevention:
- Talk to your children and teach them that violence is not acceptable
- Promote general awareness by talking to your friends about domestic violence issues and the importance of prevention
- Offer support to a friend or family member who is a victim
- Support friends and family by providing them resources (listed above)
- Report any and all domestic abuse to local law enforcement and your local Family Advocacy Program (report can be kept confidential)
- Participate in local domestic violence awareness and prevention programs through your local Family Advocacy Program and the National Network to End Domestic Violence