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Family Advocacy addresses DVAM

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

October 1981 was the first nationally observed “day of unity”, which later changed in 1989 when Congress passed public Law 101-112, officially designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month as a way of uniting advocates across the country in the effort to end domestic violence.

Capt. Donnell Bethea, 20th Fighter Wing chaplain, said he believes some people are aware of what to do if they are in an abusive relationship, however they may not always have the courage to do it.

Bethea said he has noticed COVID-19 has affected the domestic violence numbers just in his counseling sessions.
“People are stressed out, in some cases, out of work and they are struggling financially,” Bethea said. “All of these aspects could lead to domestic violence in relationships.”

There are so many warning signs that are visible, and some that may not be, Bethea said. These signs may even seem harmless, but they are not.

A few signs to look out for are when a partner is passive aggressive with their verbal communication and body language to get what they want, or giving the silent treatment in an attempt to play the victim role and make the other person feel guilty, Bethea said.

“One warning sign that I have noticed before is emotional manipulation,” said Bethea. “For example, some people will try to make their partner feel guilty for thinking or feeling a certain way.”

A good way to avoid this is to acknowledge how one’s partner feels, and let them know their feelings are important. It is key to point this out and put an immediate stop to it.

“Help is available,” said Bethea. “You are not alone and a good way to get help is to call a loved one or friend.”

Domestic violence victims tend to believe they are all alone in what they are experiencing, said Bethea. If afraid to talk to a loved one or friend reach out to a chaplain. Consultations are completely confidential. They are in touch with other helping agencies and can assist however one may need.

“Just like civilian families, our armed forces families have just as many stressors if not more due to military life,” said Chazzie Valverde, 20th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron family advocacy program assistant.

“Because of these stressors, it can cause conflict at home and in families from all backgrounds, regardless of rank or social status.”

Shaw’s Family Advocacy Program and Military and Family Life Counseling Program offer various counseling and rehabilitation services for those who have been involved with domestic violence. The team members work with local civilian resources to help further the assistance that can be provided. For more information, call (803) 895-6201.

Other options include the 24/7 Shaw AFB Domestic Abuse Hotline, (803) 895-7558, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233.