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Airmen stand against domestic violence

During the project, volunteers wore makeup to emulate domestic violence bruises as they went through their day.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Stephanie Foltz, 20th Medical Support Squadron warehouse technician, stands for a photo after having makeup applied to give the appearance of bruises for a black eye project at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 19, 2017. Project volunteers, who ranged in demographics, documented their experiences as they went about their days wearing the makeup. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

During the project, volunteers wore makeup to emulate domestic violence bruises as they went through their day.

The 20th Medical Operations Squadron family advocacy team discuss their black eye project with volunteers at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Oct. 20, 2017. During the project, volunteers wore makeup to emulate domestic violence bruises as they went through their day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

During the project, volunteers wore makeup to emulate domestic violence bruises as they went through their day.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kathy Cooper, 20th Medical Operations Squadron family health noncommissioned officer in charge, closes her eyes as Senior Master Sgt. Carlos Rios, 20th Medical Operations Squadron ambulance services flight chief, applies makeup to give the appearance of a bruised cheekbone prior to a black eye project at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 19, 2017. The project worked to emphasize the importance of community support for domestic violence victims. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

During the project, volunteers wore makeup to emulate domestic violence bruises as they went through their day.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Carlos Rios, 20th Medical Operations Squadron ambulance services flight chief, applies makeup on Airman 1st Class Stephanie Foltz, 20th Medical Support Squadron warehouse technician, prior to a black eye project at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 19, 2017. During the project, volunteers were approached by approximately 57 enlisted, officer and civilian individuals expressing concern. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

During the project, volunteers wore makeup to emulate domestic violence bruises as they went through their day.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric Michael Lazo, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operator, reviews a log sheet prior to a black eye project at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 19, 2017. During the project, volunteers wore makeup to simulate bruises and logged details about their experiences with other people throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month; domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain power and control over a partner including physical, verbal, emotional and financial abuse.

To raise awareness, the 20th Medical Operations Squadron family advocacy program employees held a black eye project, Oct. 19, during which volunteers donned makeup designed to imitate bruises that would be present after a domestic violence assault.

“I volunteered to bring awareness to the situation and to let people know it’s not okay to turn a blind eye to domestic violence and we need to stand up and say something about it,” said Tech. Sgt. Meoisha Bines, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron fleet management and analysis noncommissioned officer in charge.

While preparing for the project, one volunteer recalled a prior experience where, instead of raising red flags, her injuries were dismissed.

“I had a dog jump up (while playing) and it gave me a black eye,” said Airman 1st Class Stephanie Foltz, 20th Medical Support Squadron warehouse technician and volunteer. “I went to work at a gas station and my manager sent me home saying it was unprofessional to have a black eye and she wanted me to go put makeup on it.”

The volunteers, who ranged in demographics including gender, age and rank, were given forms to document their experiences as they went about their normal duty days.

“Domestic violence is not prejudice,” said Patti Busser, 20th MDOS family advocacy outreach manager. “It affects every rank, gender and socioeconomic class.”

The day following the project, volunteers met once again to discuss their experiences while wearing the makeup.

One bystander, Senior Master Sgt. Donald Pedro, 20th LRS fuels flight superintendent, saw two of the project participants throughout the day and reached out to them after work to find out if they needed help.

“It made me feel really good that he even tracked us down after work to say ‘Hey, what’s happening?’” said Bines.

Volunteers were approached by approximately 57 enlisted, officer and civilian individuals who asked about their injuries throughout the day.

“Community support is really the key,” said Busser. “If victims don’t feel like they have support, they’re not going to leave an alleged abusive situation.”

Victims of domestic violence may display signs such as bruises and injuries, attempts to hide bruises, being visibly upset, chronic depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Busser said it is important for people to ask if they think something is wrong.

“I think any time somebody notices and takes the time to say, ‘Look, I think you’re in trouble let me see what I can do to help,’ it emboldens (the victim’s) spirit a little bit,” said Busser. “You can imagine what that does to your spirit when you’ve been through a horrible situation and nobody bothers to ask. You really feel like you’re on your own and you’re out there all alone.”

For domestic violence counseling, contact Family Advocacy at 803-895-6201 or the 20th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps at 803-895-1106. For immediate help, contact the Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate 24/7 Line at 803-306-7558.